Medical care is usually available in major cities, but may be quite difficult to find in rural areas. Pharmacies in Ecuador are known as farmácias. It can be challenging to find imported pharmaceutical items; bring essential health and hygiene supplies since these generally cost more in Ecuador.
Availability and cost of healthcare
Public health care is free for everyone in Ecuador, visitors included, although the quality of services varies.
Private medical services are quite inexpensive compared to the US, and in larger cities such as Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, it’s possible to find foreign-trained, English-speaking physicians.
Typically, patients must pay at the time of treatment. Contact your embassy or consulate for recommendations of quality providers should you require serious medical attention.
Many of the following diseases are spread by mosquitoes. Take precautions to minimize your chances of being bitten:
- Dengue Fever
- Zika Virus
- Yellow Fever
The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those traveling to Ecuador.
The CDC recommends being up to date with all your regular shots. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot
They also suggest being vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B, rabies and yellow fever – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing. Check the CDC site above for the latest.
It’s generally advisable not to drink tap water anywhere in Ecuador. Bottled water is widely available, and some hotels and guesthouses catering to foreigners provide purified water (agua purificada) for guests wishing to fill their own bottles.
Here is a link to the US State Department Travel Advisory for Peru for the latest information on travelling to Peru.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel within the 20km exclusion zone along the border with Colombia, except for the official border crossing town of Tulcan in Carchi province.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:
- the areas of Tarapoa and the Cuyabeno reserve outside the 20km zone in Sucumbios
- the areas of El Angel Ecological Reserve inside the 20 km exclusion zone in the province of Carchi
- all other areas of Esmeraldas province outside the 20km exclusion zone
The security situation in the province of Esmeraldas can change very quickly. If you’re undertaking essential travel in areas of the province beyond the 20km exclusion zone, you should pay close attention to warnings issued by the Ecuadorean authorities, be particularly cautious and vigilant, and monitor this travel advice regularly. See Local travel
Although Ecuador doesn’t have a history of terrorism, in 2018 there have been a number of bomb explosions and kidnappings in the northern province of Esmeraldas. See Terrorism
Ecuador is situated in an area of intense seismic activity. There is a high risk of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. You should make sure you are aware of the risks and are familiar with the relevant safety and evacuation procedures. In the event of a natural disaster, you should monitor official channels – the Ecuadorean National Geophysical Institute and the National Service for Risk and Emergency Management (both Spanish only) – and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Cases of armed robbery are increasing and petty crime is common.