With over three and a half million coronavirus cases across Latin America, visits to the doctor are a risk many people don’t want to take.
Even if they were prepared to make the visit, public hospitals in capital Quito and Ecuador’s second largest city, Guayaquil, are full to capacity.
In remote areas, community hospitals have only a handful of beds and no X-ray facilities.
For some, reaching their nearest health facility is a two day journey on the river by boat.
For impoverished families, the challenges are considerable as they have neither the money nor the transportation to go to a hospital.
Christian child sponsorship charity Compassion Ecuador has come up with a simple solution using phones to help its sponsored children and their families in the country.
A new telehealth system launched recently by Compassion is providing a vital lifeline to the families who are unable to access medical help at hospitals.
The lifeline has been made possible by the voluntary work of doctors who were once sponsored children themselves.
Compassion Ecuador National Director, Sixto Gamboa says, “We realised that we have excellent doctors and professionals who have been part of our sponsorship programme since they were children and now are great doctors and nurses working day-by-day to save lives. We are so proud of them.”
Inés, a doctor and former sponsored child, said: “I like to help, and this is a time when we must support each other and be a blessing to all children and their families.”
Over 300 families have already received help through the medical hotline.
Ivia, who lives in a hard-to-access community, needed medical help when her two-year-old son Caleb developed a fever and started vomiting. She heard about the hotline from one of Compassion’s church partners.
“I was scared because there are no doctors near my house but when I called the doctor, he helped me and prescribed medicine, and in a short time my son was totally healthy,” she said.
Maria’s son Elias developed a sore throat and cough but when she called the hotline, the doctor was able to put her fears at ease by ruling out serious illness. The prescription cleared up all of his symptoms and Maria didn’t have to pay anything.
Compassion Ecuador is now planning to increase the number of doctors available in order to serve even more children as the pandemic continues.