Following an assessment mission in 2017 and two policy maker training on the nature, prevention and treatment of drug use disorders in 2018, UNODC and the Ministry of Health (on behalf of the Ecuadorian government) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on drug demand reduction during the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on March 15, 2019. The MoU comes with a Menu of Services including 5 pillars of action: 1) Research for service planning; 2) Prevention of drug use based on the International Prevention Standards of UNODC/WHO; 3) Treatment of drug use disorders within the framework of the UNODC/WHO International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders with a focus on gender and human rights; 4) Coordination and cooperation between the Health System and the Justice System (Treatment in prisons and alternative measures to incarceration); and 5) Access to controlled medications for medical purposes, avoiding deviation and abuse.
After the signing, UNODC and the Ministry of Health have held working meetings to define the work plan in coordination with the Inter-Institutional Committee of Drugs. Besides, on May 17, the Ministry of Health presented the National Agreement 2030 on Prevention of Addictions, which aims at the development of comprehensive prevention and treatment interventions in the framework of balanced drug control strategies in Ecuador. Within the framework of the MoU, UNODC will be an active part of the working groups of the National Agreement to promote the evidence-based programmes contemplated in the Menu of Services. The Minister of Health, Verónica Espinosa, said that "these agreements are a historic milestone for the country since they allow the implementation of concrete actions that will benefit each community.