After COVID relief efforts in India, Northwell Health sends vaccinators to Ecuador

Photo provided by Northwell Health

After organizing a massive COVID-19 relief effort to India weeks ago, Northwell Health’s Center for Global Health will be partnering with leaders in Ecuador to manage vaccinations as the country grapples with a spike in coronavirus cases.

At the request of Ecuador’s Minster of Health, and for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the Northwell Health CGH team traveled outside of the U.S. on June 13 to help get shots in arms relieve overburdened health care workers in the South American country who have been working around the clock in the race to vaccinate their population.

According to Reuters – which pulls data from the Ministry of Public Health in Ecuador – only 7.6 percent of the country has been fully vaccinated, leaving a considerable gap for its population of over 17 million people.

The CGH team’s goal is to administer close to 2,000 vaccines per day.

Dr. Eric Cioe Peña,  CGH director and an emergency medicine physician who work the frontlines in some of the hardest-hit areas of New York City during the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, says the key to beating the virus is vaccines and human resources.

“In the U.S., we have resources to pull clinicians from unaffected areas to offset and replenish staff or hire travel nurses to bolster our lines, Peña stated. “This is why our partnerships abroad are so valuable. We have to be global citizens and help in the fight against COVID wherever and whenever we can.”

The mission will be divided into three teams over three weeks, comprised of doctors, nurses, and Advanced Care Providers (Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants) who will administer the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the Chinese-developed, CoronaVac to inoculate the general public.

Playing two steps ahead

As the CGH team puts the finishing touches on its Ecuador mission the team is already mapping out its next mission to Guyana.

“We just signed a Memorandum of Understanding which is an institutional agreement between Northwell and the Ministry of Health and Georgetown Public Hospital Corporations to provide aid and support their vaccine efforts there,” said Dr. Cioe Peña.

Staying on the offensive

“We’ve started to reap the benefits of vaccination here in the states, but we all need to keep the pressure on so others can share that,” Dr. Cioe Peña said. “We aren’t really safe until the world is vaccinated. It’s the right thing to do and it will stop the cycle of reinfection – which combines with our own self-interests of getting back to normal.”

Established in 2019, CGH partners with Northwell department leadership to develop new programs in its core sites – Ecuador, Guyana, and India – and supports existing programs in their affiliate sites in the Dominican Republic, Kenya, and Uganda.  Providers engage in global health activities to help positively impact the health of communities abroad while equipping our providers with skills that inform practice and support patient-centered care globally and locally.


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