The Consular Section hosted a workshop on mental health and prison healthcare, with collaboration from the Ecuadorean Ministry of Health
On Monday 23rd March in Quito, the Consular Section of the British Embassy hosted a workshop on mental health and prison health services, with collaboration from the Ecuadorean Ministry of Health (MSP).
The purpose of the workshop was to learn more about the Ecuadorean new strategic plan and healthcare model for mental health services, which came into force in 2014. As part of this model, healthcare services within prisons have been moved to the remit of the Ministry of Health, when previously they were managed by the Ministry of Justice. The event was opened by the Deputy Head of Mission and Consul, Tina Hamilton, and the National Undersecretary for Healthcare Services, Dr. Patricia Granja.
Invitees to the workshop included a number of foreign Embassies in Ecuador, such as all EU missions, Canada, USA and Colombia, along with the Irish and Dutch Honorary Consuls. The principal Ministry of Health departments that attended were the Mental Health Commission, National Department for First Level Health Services, Legal Advice Unit and the International Relations Department.
The Mental Health Commission and the First Level Healthcare units were in charge of the main presentations, together with the manager of the “Julio Endara” public psychiatric hospital in Quito (Conocoto). Furthermore, the Health Coordinator from the Ministry of Justice briefed all attendees on the challenges and progress made on the prison healthcare service recently implemented in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.
In order to include all key players in the area of mental health services in Ecuador, the workshop was also attended by representatives from the Ecuadorean public outpatient psychiatric centre “San Lazaro”, and private psychiatric institutions such as “Guadalupe”, “Sagrado Corazon de Jesus” in Quito, and the “Instituto Neurociencias” in Guayaquil. There were also representatives from the Quito Municipality’s Social Inclusion Department and “Fundación Patronato San José”, who run some shelters that include services for mental health patients.
Vice Consul from the British Embassy, Veronica Ruiz, and Deputy Consul from the Spanish General Consulate, Alicia Cocero, explained about their consular assistance policies, which involves support to citizens with mental health problems and those in prison in Ecuador. The main purpose of these presentations was familiarising all the attendees with our consular assistance role and limitations, thus the need of coordinating actions with the local authorities and other public-private institutions.
The workshop concluded with a very active discussion, in which all the participants were able to ask questions or comment on various issues relevant to mental health services and prison healthcare. It is hoped that the workshop will lead to some actions from the local healthcare authorities and embassies.
The British Embassy is grateful that its initiative was successfully supported by the Ecuadorean Ministry of Health, as all the Embassies engaged in this event have now become more familiarised with the recent changes to mental health services in Ecuador, and raised awareness about what we can and cannot do in line with our consular assistance policies. The British Embassy is also very pleased to have facilitated this direct contact with key local authorities and healthcare institutions to other foreign missions in Ecuador.