The COVID-19 pandemic deepened the problem that, in a systematic way for several years, has affected IESS members living with HIV and that is rooted in the systematic failure of the provision of antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of their HIV infection, resulting in the interruption of treatment, or its partial delivery, on these occasions forcing members to purchase antiretroviral treatment (ART) through other, essentially private channels, with high out-of-pocket costs, their personal and family finances being affected by their high cost, in addition to the impact on their health.
These events reported by people to civil society organizations, of people living with HIV, and to the Ombudsman's Office, supported by national and international networks working on HIV, were made public, pointing out the impact it has on adherence to treatment and in limiting the scope of national goals for the reduction of new HIV infections in the country.
Failure to comply, or the partial fulfillment of its obligations of the IESS, from various sectors of civil society saw the urgent need - once again - to denounce this violation of the right to health and its restitution. Complaint filed with the Constitutional Court of Ecuador.
The judgment issued on July 15, 2020 by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador, in the powers that the constitution confers on it as the highest constitutional interpretation body, in plenary session, carried out the follow-up on the present case based on the constitutional rights that assist it HIV-positive people have access to public health and quality public service, taking into consideration that they are part of the priority care group and the state must guarantee that its institutions safeguard their rights.
The sentence requires compliance, with calls for attention to the institutions obliged to comply, to avoid the shortage of antiretroviral drugs in any establishment of the Public Health Network. The sentence is characterized by demanding speed and improvement in the quality of the provision of health services for people living with HIV.
The ruling gave the IESS a period of 3 months to coordinate with the MSP and the governing authority of the National Public Procurement System, to adopt the necessary policies for the supply of ARVs, to carry out public purchases of medicines and thus prevent shortages.
Likewise, the MSP and the IESS have a period of 15 days to start a campaign to disseminate contingency measures to provide medical care and supply of ARV medicine to patients registered in the Comprehensive Public Health Network system in the context of the health emergency due to COVID-19.
Compliance with this sentence will have the oversight of the Council for Citizen Participation and the Ecuadorian Ombudsman's Office must follow up on the sentence, verifying if the IESS, MSP and the CPC comply with the orders and inform the Constitutional Cohort of Ecuador, if this is not fulfilled in law, sanctions must be imposed.
Author: Tito Esparza Quintana *
* Tito Esparza Quintana, has a degree in education and an expert in community education on HIV. He is coordinator of the Community Counseling and HIV Testing Services of Corporación Kimirina in the city of Guayaquil-Ecuador