Header image for news printout

Ecuador “endemic” violence and discrimination are major public health issues, says UN human rights expert


GENEVA / QUITO (27 September 2019) – “Ecuador must act to advance the right to health by addressing key issues like violence and discrimination, while investing in a sustainable health system,” says visiting UN Special Rapporteur Dainius Pūras.

“Ecuador is in a good position to reach the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, but key elements need to be in place. Non-discrimination and participation in the healthcare system and beyond must become a reality,” said Pūras, the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, presenting his preliminary observations at the end of his 10-day visit.

“Violence against women and girls is endemic in Ecuador and remains one of the major public health threats. All violence must be addressed with determination and courage.

“I deeply regret that during my mission, the National Assembly voted not to decriminalise abortion in cases of rape. This decision is against human rights and modern public health principles and will only expose more impoverished girls and women to early pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal mortality. I strongly encourage the authorities to veto this decision and promote legislation that complies with human rights standards,” the Special Rapporteur said.

The Special Rapporteur commended a number of positive developments but also pointed to remaining challenges. He noted positively that the constitution guaranteed the right to health and that there had been significant investments in the health system infrastructure. He also called for a responsible legislative debate on the health code and the urgent adoption of a text complying with international human rights law.

Pūras noted that women and girls, children and adolescents, members of LGBTI communities, people living with HIV/AIDS, and people on the move still faced specific challenges in realising their right to health. Indigenous peoples and Afro-Ecuadorian communities showed worse health indicators than the rest of the country.

Pūras stressed that investment in health care should continue to focus on making sure there was an available, accessible, acceptable and high-quality service for all, even in times of financial constraints.

“Budget cuts reported to me can be detrimental to the effectiveness and sustainability of the progress achieved so far and can add an additional strain to an already overburdened system,” warned Pūras.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a full report to the Human Rights Council in June 2020 on the main findings of his visit.


Mr. Dainius Pūras (Lithuania) is a medical doctor with notable expertise on mental health and child health; he took up his functions as UN Special Rapporteur on 1 August 2014. Dainius Pūras is the Director of Human rights monitoring institute in Vilnius Lithuania, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and public mental health at Vilnius University and teaches at the faculties of medicine and philosophy of the same university.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page — Ecuador

For press inquiries and additional information, please contact:
In Ecuador (during the visit): Ms Marina Narvaez (+41 79 444 5172 /
In Geneva (during the visit) Ms Lucía de la Sierra (+ 41 22 917 9741 / ldelasierra@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org