In 2008, the newly written Ecuadorian Constitution guaranteed access to healthcare for all citizens. Consequently, a vast amount of resources have been directed toward rebuilding the public healthcare system, which was in shambles due to the effects of neoliberalism. Although national healthcare studies show positive outcomes, community-based research studies from an impoverished rural barrio in southern Ecuador indicate that the public healthcare system has been unable to address a health epidemic. Based on several years of fieldwork, we argue that the failure originates from the continued functioning of the biomedical model of healthcare as the dominant health discourse in Ecuador. The ensuing result has been the construction of health system governed by an “administrative state” that enforces health policies from the top-down and delivers “episodic” emergency-style care. Accordingly, we maintain that the Ministry of Health (MOH) should create a nationwide community-based health promoter program guided by the principles of health promotion.
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