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Live, work and study

The Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IEES) is one of the largest co-operative bodies in the world. Unfortunately the level of healthcare they offer is poor. There are usually a lack of facilities and long waiting times to see a doctor. (Foreigners didn’t have to pay into the IEES even as a salaried employee although the government have now made it obligatory for all working Ecuadorians). The government are investing money but opinion is varied as to how much difference it has made thus far.

As soon as you’re prepared to pay something extra things improve. There are many excellent private clinics. You can make appointments to see doctors at short notice, they spend a long time with each patient and you can find some very well-trained (often internationally) and equipped practitioners. The same applies to operations – a short waiting time and excellent level of care and expertise. That said the President recently travelled to Cuba for two operations on his knees so if that is your problem you should probably look elsewhere.

It’s quite easy to organise private medical insurance with a company or private hospital. I’ve used two; Salud, who have medical points in some branches of Megamaxi, otherwise you go and see a doctor and claim the money back; and Cruzblanca, who generally offer private treatment in their clinic. When you choose a company make sure you’re clear where the company will reimburse you.

You can read about one of my hospital experiences, getting my finger stitched up in Alamor.

When my wife gave birth in La Maternidad in Guayaquil I was amazed that none of the nurses seemed interested in when her drip needed changing. My mother-in-law was recently there and unfortunately things haven´t improved so I would avoid it. The care given by the nurses is extremely poor. The hospitals in Guayaquil that are generally considered better are Clínica Kennedy (several branches), Omni Hospital and Hospital Alcívar.

Glossary: Medical Terms

1. Illnesses

Chickenpox - varicela
Diarrhoea - diarea
Diphtheria - dipteria
Flu – la grippe
Hay fever –fiebre del heno
Hepatitis - hepatítis
Malaria - malaria
Measles - sarampión
Mumps - paperas
Rabies - rabia
Tetanus - tétano
Typhoid - tifoidea
Yellow Fever – fiebre amarilla

2. Medicine

Antibiotics - antibiótico
Rehydration salts /solution – rehidratación polvo / liquido (eg. Pedialyte)
Antidiarrheal tablets - antidiarreicos
Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) - same
Aspirin - aspirina
Anti-inflammatory - antiinflamatorio
Anti-histamines - antihistamínicos
Antibacterial ointment – pomade antibacteriana
Acetazolamide (Diamox) - same
Bandages - venda
Gauze – malla or gasa
Insect Repellent – replente (Detán is good but strong, many creams suitable for kids available)
Iodine - yodo
Plaster – yeso (for broken bone) – curita (for a little cut)
Scissors - tijera
Sterile - estéril
Steroid cream / cortisone – pomade para los esteroides
Sun block - bloqueador
Suntan lotion - bronzeador
Syringes - jeringa
Tablets - pastillas
Tape - cinta
Thermometer - termómetro
Tweezers - pinza


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