World Class Healthcare in Cuenca

Ecuador’s Medical Community

By Henry Noel


Ecuador is the recipient of increased visibility due to the influx of visitors and immigrants to this small South American country of just under 17 million people. Immigrants from all over the globe are seeking the slower pace and reduced cost of living as a refuge from the ever-increasing cost of living in North America, Europe, and Asia.

The most affected area for Ecuador has been its medical system comprising both private and social medical facilities. In the past ten years, annual funding for public health care has more than doubled from previous levels. Ecuador has made great strides improving its medical standing with the World Health Organization (WHO). Various surveys verify Ecuador has moved from the middle of the pack of Latin American countries in health care quality, climbing into the top five. A Bloomberg survey in 2014 listed Ecuador 20th in the world of overall health care efficiency, factoring in both cost and quality. The U.S., by comparison, ranked 46th. However, the increasing influx of immigrants can be taxing on this small country’s medical system.

According to the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ), Ecuador is fast becoming a top medical tourism destination. Foreigners seeking medical treatments, whether simple treatments like dental and auditory care, or major procedures like knee and hip replacement, open-heart surgery, and the ever-popular cosmetic surgery, Ecuador’s lower costs and growing bank of internationally trained medical professionals are placing Ecuador in the spotlight for medical tourism.

Like many countries, Ecuador’s larger cities (Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca) have the most modern facilities and a plethora of internationally trained specialists providing state-of-the-art medical treatments. Recent policy changes and dedicated funding from the Ecuadorian government has increased the quality of medical care throughout the country, especially its Social Security system, or IESS, which has received the largest infusion of government funding over the past ten years. A notable benefit of the IESS program is of particular importance to immigrants, who, in case of an emergency, can receive service at any emergency room in the country, including private ones, with IESS picking up the tab.

However, in Ecuador’s smaller cities, the oriente, and coastal areas, medical services can be a bit behind the international curve and could use much more support. Despite these short-comings, Ecuador has demonstrated its support to the medical community by increasing resources and encouraging talented medical professionals to improve services in these needed areas.

The future of Ecuador’s health care system is bright. Costs for services run from 10% to 30% of those in the United States. The Bloomberg health study, cited earlier, reports that Ecuador gets excellent results for its health care spending: $332 per capita for health care compared to $8,608 for the United States, making Ecuador a bargain when it comes to the cost of medical treatments.

Ecuador’s medical system, its medical professionals, the availability of services, and reduced costs, permits Ecuador the privilege to stand proud. Ecuador is a small country creating a large presence in our world’s medical community.

In this issue, Cuenca Expats Magazine is proud to present some of Cuenca’s best medical professionals.

Dr. Pablo Salamea M.

Cosmetic, Reconstructive and Plastic Surgeon

Academic Training - Awards - Positions Held

- Member of:  ASPS, American Society of Plastic Surgeons. FILACP, Ibero-Latin American Federation of Plastic Surgery. SECPRE. ISAPS.
- Director, Rostros Felices Cuenca Foundation
- Director, Helping Kids in Ecuador (HKIE) Foundation
- Resurge US Foundation Volunteer Surgeon
- Associate Profesor, Faculty of Medicine, Univ. de Cuenca
- Member of the Plastic Surgery Staff, Hosp. Vicente Corral M.
- Plastic Surgeon Staff, Hospital Universitario del Río
- Sub-Director of Specialty Surgical Clinic, Hospital Vicente Corral Moscoso


Eyelid surgery  · Rhinoplasty  · Otoplasty  · Chin Surgery   · Facial Rejuvenation Surgery  · Breast Lifting, Increase & Reduction  · Liposculpture & Abdominoplasty  · Buttocks & Calf Augmentation  · Body Contouring Surgery  · Reconstructive surgery (microsurgery and facial paralysis)  · Minimally Invasive Procedures (Botox & Facial Fat Transfer)

Educational Background

-  UCSG Plastic Surgeon, Aesthetic and Reconstructive, Universidad Estatal Paulista, Sao Paulo, Brasil
-  Microsurgery and Facial Paralysis, Fellow Instituto Ivo Pitangus, Río de Janeiro, Brasil

Hospital Universitario del Río, 2nd floor, #236
Facebook: DrPabloSalamea
Phone: 098.721.9725 or 2459553 ext 2243

Dra. Saine Touma C.

Cosmiatry and Aesthetic Medicine


Facial rejuvenation, depigmentation, and fillers - Botulinum toxin (BOTOX) - Reduction of measures - Body depigmentation - Phleboestetics - Aparatology - Skin flaccidity - Cellulitis - Acne sequel - Wrinkles - Fibrosis - Adhesions - Localized fat - Lymphatic drainage - Pre and post Operatory

Educational Background

- General Medicine, School of Medicine, Universidad de Guayaquil
- Aesthetic Medicine, University of Buenos Aires
- Master's Degree in Health, Universidad de Loja
- Aesthetics, Universidad Católica de Cuenca

Hospital Universitario del Río, 2nd Floor, #237
Phone: 459553 ext. 2243 or 093.920.5546

MD. Rafael Salamea M.

Anesthesiology and Resuscitation

Current Positions:

-  Department Head, Anesthesia Department, Hospital Universitario del Río
-  Professor of Neuroanesthesia, Post-graduate degree  program, Anesthesiology, Universidad de Cuenca

Experience in

 Pediatric Anesthesiology, gyneco-obstetric, general and neuroanesthesia
Pain management

Educational Background

-  General Medicine, Universidad del Azuay
-  Anaesthesiology and Resuscitation, Universidad Católica Santiago de Guayaquil
-  Neuroanesthesia Course, Manuel Velasco Suarez Institute, Mexico City
-  Currently studying subspecialty in pain medicine and palliative care, Pain Foundation Buenos Aires, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Hospital Universitario del Río, 4th floor, #412
Phone: 459553 ext. 2402 or 098.432.7653

Juan Carlos Salamea M. MD, FACS

General and Laparoscopic Surgery - Trauma and Acute Care Surgery

Current Position:

-  Staff Surgeon, Hospital Universitario del Río
-  Coordinator Trauma and Emergency Center, Hospital  Vicente Corral Moscoso
-  Associate Professor Universidad del Azuay


General Surgery  · Laparoscopic Surgery  · Emergency and Trauma Surgery  · Abdominal and Hernia Repair  · Surgical Critical Care

Educational Background

-  Trauma and Emergency Surgery, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.
-  General Surgery Specialty, Universidad de Cuenca.
-  International Instructor, Definitive Surgical Trauma Care Course, International Association for Trauma Surgery and Intensive Care.
-  International Instructor, Emergency Abdominal Surgery Course, World Society Emergency Surgery.
-  Fellow American College of Surgeons.

Hospital Universitario del Río, 2nd floor, #235
Facebook: medigestonline
Phone: 098.329.9649 or 099.743.7496

Dr. Silvia Carrión Sánchez

Gastroenterology (Adults), Endoscopy and Colonoscopy Specialist

Current Position:

-  Medical Associate, Gastroenterology Department, Hospital Universitario del Río


  Digestive diseases
  Upper and lower endoscopy (diagnosis and therapeutic)
Digestive screening cancer
  Liver disease management

Educational Background

-  Medical Associate, Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires
-  Medical Specialist Degree in Gastroenterology, University of Buenos Aires (UBA) - Argentine Society of Gastroenterology (SAGE)
-  Gastroenterology Residency, Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires
-  Medical Clinician, Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires
-  School of Medical Sciences - Universidad de Cuenca

Hospital Universitario del Río, 4th floor, #423
Facebook: medigestonline
Phone: 098.32909649 or 099.954.9255

Dr. Luis Flores S.

Digestive surgery, laparoscopy, and transplants

Current Positions:

-  Staff Surgeon, Hospital Universitario del Rio
- General Transplant Coordinator, Hospital José Carrasco Arteaga


  General Surgery
  Advanced laparoscopic surgery
  Digestive and hepato-bilio-pancreatic surgery
  Liver transplant
  Bariatric surgery

Educational Background

-  Medicine and Surgery, School of Medical Sciences, Universidad de Cuenca
-  General Surgery Specialist, Universidad de Cuenca
-  General Surgery and Gastroenterology Specialist, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona. Ministry of Health. Spain.
-  Master of Clinical Research with a Specialty in Donation and Transplant of Organs, Tissues and Cells, University of Barcelona

Hospital Universitario del Río, 2nd floor, #235
Facebook: medigestonline
Phone: 098.329.9649 or 093.929.3277

Dr. Mónica Vásquez P.

Gastroenterology, diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy, hepatology and liver transplant


  Hepatic diseases in acute and chronic stages – Cirrhosis
  Viral Illnesses: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C
  Autoimmune Diseases: Autoimmune Hepatitis, Cholangitis
  Acute Alcoholic Hepatitis and Cirrhosis
  Diagnosis and monitoring of liver injuries
  Fatty liver
  Management and follow-up of patients on the transplant and post-transplant list
  Digestive diseases
  Upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy

Educational Background

-  School of Medical Sciences, Universidad de Cuenca
-  Hepatology and Liver Transplantation Fellowship, Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, Autonomous City of Buenos Aires
-  Hepatology and Liver Transplantation Specialty, Argentine Association for the Study of  Liver Diseases (AAEEH), (CABA)
-  Diagnostic and Therapeutic Endoscopy Video Specialization, Institute of Diagnostics and Treatment (IADT), (CABA)
-  Gastroenterology Specialty, Universidad del Salvador
-  Master’s in Research, Hepatic Diseases and Liver Transplants, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona

Phone: 098.329.9649

Dr. Marco Palacios Q.

Internal Medicine

Current Position:
-  Attending Physician, Internal Medicine Department, Hospital Universitario del Río
-  Professor, School of Medicine, Universidad del Azuay


  Chronic and acute patient care
  Preventive medicine
  Preoperative evaluation

Educational Background

-  Medicine and Surgery, Universidad de Cuenca
-  Internal Medicine Specialist, Universidad de Cuenca

Hospital Universitario del Río, 1st floor, #120
Facebook: medigestonline
Phone: 098.329.9649 or 099.807.1345

Dr. Yadira Tapia P.


Specialist in (adult and children)

Skin, Hair and Nails Diseases      Acne and Sequelae       Scars Management     Skin Rejuvenation     Peeling     Melasma (Facial stains)      Moles      Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention      Alopecia (Hair loss)      Allergies      Vitiligo     Psoriasis      Atopic Dermatitis     Laser Treatments

Educational Background

-  General Medicine, School of Medicine, Universidad de Cuenca
-  Dermatology, Universidad de Guayaquil
-  Mycology, Hospital General Dr. Manuel Gea González, México

Hospital Universitario del Río, 2nd floor, #232
Facebook: AquaCuenca
Phone: 459553 ext. 2243 or 098.245.9021

Dr. Doménica Toledo G.

Aesthetic Medicine


  Wrinkles     Scars     Baldness     Under-Eye Bags     Cellulitis     Anti-Aging      Measure Reduction      Plasma Rich in Growth Factors (PRP)     Micropigmentation (Eyeliner, Eyebrows, Lip Fill)     Facial fillers      Fibrosis      Hair Treatments

Educational Background

-  General Medicine, Universidad Católica de Cuenca
-  Master Degree in Aesthetic Medicine, Universitat de Les Illes Balears, Spain

Hospital Universitario del Río, 2nd floor, #232
Facebook: AquaCuenca
Phone: 098.245.9021 or 459553 ext. 2243

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