Alban South America


Background Information

In Ecuador, there are associations of traditional medicine practitioners that work at regional and local levels. Some of these associations were created by indigenous organizations and others by state initiatives.


There are chiropractors practicing in Ecuador.

Regulatory Situation

Section 174 of the Ecuadorian Health Code of 1971 limited the practice of physicians, pharmacists, dentists, midwives, and other health practitioners to persons holding qualifications “granted or validated by the University of Ecuador”. Under Section 179, health authorities were responsible for the detection and suppression of the illegal practice of medicine and allied professions “without prejudice to normal judicial proceedings”. By Section 180, “It shall be automatically assumed that a person is illegally practicing [medicine]… if, without holding a legally conferred qualification, diploma, or certificate, he possesses equipment or materials for such practice.”

In the beginning of 1998, indigenous peoples proposed a bill to regulate traditional medicine. This bill was passed in June and came into force in August 1998. Based on this bill, the Constitutional Assembly included two articles in the Constitution that stipulate principles on which the practice of traditional medicine must be based. Chapter 4, Section 4, Article 44 reads as follows:

The State will formulate national health policy and will monitor its application. It will control the operation of the entities of this sector. It will acknowledge, respect and promote the development of traditional and alternative medicine, the practice of which will be regulated by law and will promote scientific and technological advancement in the health area subject to bio-ethical principles.

The Constitution of the Republic, Chapter 5, Article 84, Numeral 12 establishes collective rights:

to the systems, knowledge and practice of Traditional Medicine, including the right to the protection of ritual and sacred places, plants, animals, minerals and ecosystems of interest to the State from the point of view of traditional medicine.

There is no registry of traditional medicine practitioners in Ecuador and no licensing procedure for practitioners of traditional medicine. There is no official institution in charge of regulating traditional medical practice. There is, however, the National Division of Indigenous Health, which was created by a ministerial resolution to promote the development of traditional medicine.

In Ecuador, there are no specific programs linking traditional medicine with allopathic medicine. But, with increasing interest in traditional medicine, particularly Quichua medicine, the State is focusing more attention on official linkages. Some efforts have been made to coordinate with institutions and organizations affiliated with traditional medicine in Ecuador.

In 1983, the Government recognized homeopathy as a medical practice. The Ecuadorian Medical Federation began officially recognizing homeopathy as a medical specialty in 1988. It is also recognized in the Constitution of the National Assembly. There is no chiropractic law.

Education and Training

Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, a private Andean university in the city of Quito, is responsible for teaching traditional medicine in Ecuador. Offerings include certificate programs, seminars, workshops, and meetings.

The Ministry of Public Health established training courses for traditional birth attendants in 1974 with the aim of incorporating them into the health services of rural areas. There is no official training in traditional medicine offered to allopathic health personnel.