What Role Can Healthcare Play in Anti-Trafficking Efforts?

By: Sharon E. Chin

US_Navy_100624-N-6597H-403_Lt._Cmdr._Dorey_Harlan,_a_pediatrician_assigned_to_the_Military_Sealift_Command_hospital_ship_USNS_Mercy_(T-AH_19),This past week, JAMA Pediatrics released two articles discussing the role of healthcare providers and education within anti-trafficking efforts in the United States. The issue of human trafficking occurring in America is still a novelty to many American citizens. This isn’t too surprising since many past studies about human trafficking have been conducted in foreign countries, whereas the United States has only just started to expand research of the issue within her borders. For example, the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report published their first document in 2001 to identify the scope of human trafficking within foreign governments along with their anti-trafficking efforts; the United States was first included in the 2012 Report.

In 2011, the US Department of Justice identified the majority of sex trafficking victims as US citizens, most of whom were under the age of 25. While the studies are few, there are suggestions that health care providers have a higher likelihood than the average person of interacting with victims of human trafficking during their captivity. Most victims are undetected due to lack of provider awareness and training. Moreover, healthcare facilities lack protocols to respond to identified cases of human trafficking. Drs. Grace, Ahn and Konstantopoulos suggest that since human trafficking has become such a significant issue that providers are encountering in healthcare settings, curriculum about human trafficking should be included in medical training.


“Integrating curricula on human trafficking into medical education and residency training, as well as encouraging research that will provide the evidence base for continually informing and updating the content of these curricula, are examples of ways in which health care professionals can respond to human trafficking today. “

– Drs. Aimee Grace, Roy Ahn & Wendy Macias Konstantopoulos


In addition to the need for educating health practitioners there is a need for evidence-based leadership and tools. Drs. Diaz, Clayton and Ms. Simon mention the importance of creating formal anti-trafficking policy within organizations as a means of identifying human trafficking as a healthcare issue. Through better research, effective educational models, screening tools, and universal policies, healthcare providers can also play a large part in the anti-trafficking movement.

Cancer InCytes magazine has published personal testimonials of people who have survived child sex trafficking or both sex trafficking and cancer. These articles are excellent resources as training material to inform healthcare providers about the brutal reality of child sex trafficking.

NEITHER HEIGHT NOR DEPTH, NOR HOT, NOR COLD
http://www.cancerincytes.org/#!twice-as-strong/c1awf

TWICE AS STRONG
http://www.cancerincytes.org/#!twice-as-strong/c33u

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA LINKED TO CHRONIC DISEASES IN ADULTHOOD
http://www.cancerincytes.org/#!childhood-trauma-linked-to-chronic-diseases-in-adulthood/c1jot

Sharon E. Chin is an MPH candidate at Rutgers University and is Social Media Editor for Cancer InCytes magazine. Her interests are exploring social justice issues through public health lenses.

References:

–  U.S. Department of State. (2013Jun).”Trafficking in Persons Report 2012.” U.S. Department of State. Accessed on: 2014Jul24. http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2012/index.htm

–  Grace AM, Ahn R, Macias Konstantopoulos W. (2014Jul21). “Integrating Curricula on Human Trafficking Into Medical Education and Residency Training”. JAMA Pediatr. Published online. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.999.

–  Banks D, Kyckelhahn T. (2011Apr). “Characteristics of suspected human trafficking incidents, 2008-2010”. Special report, US Department of Justice. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cshti0810.pdf. Accessed on 2014Jul24

–  Diaz A, Clayton E, Simon P. (2014Jul21). “Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors”. JAMA Pediatr. Published online. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.1002.

Image by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Husman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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