Translate page with Google

Story Publication logo May 12, 2020

To Protect Them From COVID-19, Ecuador Puts Cancer Patients at Risk (Spanish)


Police wearing masks and gloves amid coronavirus outbreak in South America. Image by Myriam B / Shutterstock. Peru, 2020.

Using public data and shoe-leather reporting, the Centinela team will probe Latin America’s...

author #1 image author #2 image
Multiple Authors
Image by Paula de la Cruz/GK. Ecuador, 2020.
Image by Paula de la Cruz/GK. Ecuador, 2020.

Elena is 55 years old and has cancer in her right ovary. She was operated at Hospital de la Sociedad de Lucha Contra el Cáncer (Solca) in Guayaquil, just before the sanitation emergency was declared due to COVID-19.  Elena's cancer was spreading to her other organs, including her liver. On February 28, her oncologist told her that she had to have chemotherapy done immediately and ordered preliminary exams to determine the number of sessions Elena needed.

Two weeks later, on March 18, Solca announced that due to the "uncontrollable increase of coronavirus cases" all medical attention was suspended and only emergencies would be attended to—all other treatments, including Elena's, were put on hold. Since that moment, Laura told GK, a partner in the cross-border journalistic collaboration Centinela, that she has seen how her mother's life fades away day-by-day while in waiting.

The reasoning behind the suspension of services was complex. Solca's official announcement said that it was being done for the safety of their patients: "the natural existence of illness creates an immunocompromised system (weakened immune system) and to undergo chemo or radioactive treatment, further weakens the body's natural defense system against COVID-19, which makes them more likely to get infected and/or have severe complications from the virus."

It's a paradox: not receiving treatments to avoid dying of COVID-19 can mean dying of cancer—and vice versa.

To read the full version of this article in Spanish, visit Clip's website.

COVID-19 Update: The connection between local and global issues–the Pulitzer Center's long standing mantra–has, sadly, never been more evident. We are uniquely positioned to serve the journalists, news media organizations, schools, and universities we partner with by continuing to advance our core mission: enabling great journalism and education about underreported and systemic issues that resonate now–and continue to have relevance in times ahead. We believe that this is a moment for decisive action. Learn more about the steps we are taking.









Support our work

Your support ensures great journalism and education on underreported and systemic global issues