What We Don’t Know About Egypt


egyptian street

By: Sara Kim

Fatema El-Sayed, a 20-year-old student at American University in Cairo, has taken matters into her own hands in fighting human trafficking in Egypt. El-Sayed works as an activist in areas of Cairo, Egypt, and educates the public about its grim reality through her article “We have it all.”
El-Sayed’s article describes her experiences meeting victims of human trafficking, who differed in gender, age, and backgrounds. Human trafficking, she says, is something deeply engrained into the culture of Egypt and that efforts to combat the crime are difficult.
In Egypt summer marriages are popular because young girls are sold off to foreigners just for that season. Oftentimes, it is girls from poor families who are sold off so that the family may have food to eat. Even if the girl is prosecuted for “prostitution,” traffickers typically remain blameless by law. But what makes matters worse is that this reality does not differ for other children.
Younger children on the streets are bullied by gang members and forced to beg strangers for money. Many times, the children do not receive any profit from their work. Even the men are exploited for their labor as they are forced into arduous work for little pay. In such situations, El-Sayed describes that in Egypt, people “have been taught to look the other way” and turn a blind eye to the abuse they see around them.

Despite the harsh reality, El-Sayed seeks to uproot the crime by educating potential victims to make better choices. Such efforts include persuading parents not to sell their children, encouraging younger kids to stay in school, and giving sexual harassment training to girls, but most of all, as according to El-Sayed, “praying for a little bit of magic.”

Sara (Da Som) Kim is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes.

Reference: El-Sayed, Fatema. “We have it all.” International Human Trafficking Institute. April 21, 2015. URL: http://theihti.org/we-have-it-all/. Date accessed 5/13/15.

Photo Credit: El-Sayed, Fatema, International Human Trafficking Institute.

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Improving Primary Care by Addressing Trauma



“Understanding the link between trauma and health is an epiphany for clinicians. Many of us have spent years struggling to help our patients improve their health but did not realize that there was a missing ingredient in our model of care. Trauma affects health not only through psychological and behavioral factors, but also biologically, through neuroendocrine and inflammatory changes in response to trauma. By understanding the central role that trauma plays in illness, we can use this new model to reengineer clinical practice around trauma-informed principles to better serve our patients and save lives,” said Machtinger.

” ‘In our clinic where we treat women with HIV, we are able to deliver lifesaving anti-HIV medications, but we still lose patients far too often. Looking back over the last ten years, only 16 percent of our patient deaths were due to HIV/AIDS. Most deaths were due to events such as depression, suicide, murder, drug overdoses and lung diseases that are directly related to adult and childhood experiences of trauma. We also realized that trauma is having a devastating impact on the health of a broad spectrum of the U.S. population, regardless of someone’s HIV status. We need a new model of care that addresses this key social determinate of health,’ said the paper’s lead author, Edward L. Machtinger, MD, director of the Women’s HIV Program at UCSF.”

“In the trauma-informed primary care model, the healthcare team routinely inquires about trauma, ideally in the context of an ongoing provider-patient relationship. Patients are educated about the ways that trauma affects health. Screening includes assessment for recent trauma including intimate partner violence, lifetime trauma, and/or the emotional and physical consequences of trauma such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use and chronic pain.”

Read the full article here:

University of California, San Francisco. “Improving primary care by addressing trauma.” Medical Express, May 6, 2015


Photo Credit: Mimozaveliu. “The children of Kosovo-Sorrow and hope 3.” Wikimedia Commons, 14 February 2013

An Open Discussion On Minority Health and Human Trafficking

By: Charmaine Santos


Minority Health Month is observed every April in the United States in order to raise community awareness on the issues around health disparities among ethnic and racial minorities. The commemorated month of April dates back to the leadership from Dr. Booker T. Washington in 1915. Since then, reports such as the Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health written by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has defined minorities to be Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders. Reports like these describe the unequal health and health care experience of ethnic and racial minorities in the United States.

Every January Americans celebrate the anniversary of the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation as well as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services to Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States was released last year and calls for the “coordination, collaboration, and capacity of victim services across government and with non-public partners” (Rollins). The majority of victims in the United States are people of color. Sex trafficking victims whose race was known, was confirmed by a 2013 Department of Justice report: 40 percent were Black, 26 percent were White, 23 percent were Hispanic, 4 percent were Asian, and 6 percent were other. For confirmed labor trafficking victims, 56 percent were Hispanic, 18 percent were other, 15 percent were Asian, 10 percent were Black, and 2 percent were White.

Linking the problems of human trafficking and minority health, however, starts with an open discussion surrounding the social circumstances of health (where people grow up, live, etc.) that impact victim demographics and underserved populations. We are starting to view human trafficking not as just a law enforcement issue, but as a public health problem, which promotes the exchange of ideas and best practices in the minority health field.

Actions we can do to help combat minority health and human trafficking could be to amplify messages during ethnic and racial awareness months and to also research the basics of minority health and human trafficking. In addition, we need to ensure that systems are implementing National CLAS Standards (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care) so all individuals receive appropriate care. To progress and induce social change, we must work together by increasing our knowledge between minority health and human trafficking and use that expertise to plan and implement possible solutions.

Charmaine Santos is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biology as well as minors in Chemistry and Health Studies. She volunteers alongside UCSF medical students at a student-run homeless clinic in San Francisco and is also an active volunteer with Operation Access. Charmaine is also a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.



Rollins, Rochelle. (2015, April 21). “Bridging Minority Health and Human Trafficking.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved May 2, 2015 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2015/04/bridging-minority-health-and-human-trafficking


Photo Credit: (Reuters) http://www.thepersecution.org/world/indonesia/10/08/dawn16.html



Adverse Childhood Experiences and Health: Heart Disease, Lung Cancer, Depression


By: Kristine Alarcon

On the TEDMED stage, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris quoted Dr. Robert Block saying, “Adverse childhood experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.”

Dr. Harris’s career as a pediatrician changed once she discovered research conducted by Dr. Vince Felitti and Dr. Bob Anda called the “Adverse Childhood Experience Study.” The research focused on ACEs, which are adverse childhood experiences. ACEs include domestic violence, parental mental illness, parental separation, neglect (physically, emotionally, or sexually), or physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse.

The 17,500 adults were each given a point for each traumatic experience and points were added up to create their ACE sore. The participants’ health outcomes were then studied and correlated with the ACE scores. Dr. Harris was surprised that ACEs were so common as there were at least 67% of the research pool that experienced one ACE and 12.6% who experienced four or more ACEs. Those who scored four or more, in comparison to those with an ACE score of zero, were more than twice as likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), had twice the risk of hepatitis, quadruple the risk of depression, and twelve times as likely to be suicidal. For those who had an ACE score of seven or more, they had triple the risk of lung cancer and were more than three times as likely to develop the leading cause of death in the United States, ischemic heart disease.

This is not just a problem in poor and underserved areas but everyone can be affected. The ACE study involved college educated people and Caucasians. Anyone can be affected by the overactive and constant stress responses that are caused by the adverse childhood experiences. It is especially important to treat the issue in the youth. Their immune systems, hormonal system, DNA processing, and brain formation and functioning can be impaired by the stress.

One step that Dr. Harris has started to drive the movement to bring attention to ACEs is by opening the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, CA. There, she can provide preventative measures and even treat and heal the stress and impacts associated with ACEs. Some methods to do so are with holistic interventions, mental health care, home visits, and much more.

Kristine Alarcon is a senior at the University of San Francisco working towards a Bachelors of Science in Biology. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.


Oran, Nicole. “Childhood trauma triples chances of heart disease and lung cancer in adulthood.” MedCity News.  Date Accessed, 1 May 2015.


Photo Credit: (TEDMED) http://www.ted.com/talks/nadine_burke_harris_how_childhood_trauma_affects_health_across_a_lifetime?language=en




Brazen Smuggling Business Profiting From Fleeing African Migrants

Refugees in plastic boats

By: Charmaine Santos

Libyan militias, tribesmen, and bandits are responsible for the deaths of over 1,000 Italy-bound migrants in the Mediterranean in just the last two weeks. A number of armed groups in Libya are advertising their services of boat transport to people in search for a better life by presenting the economic collapse in Libya as the perfect opportunity to escape conflict and secure safe transport. However, these boats are highly unsafe and these armed groups are setting innocent people afloat on what is known to be the deadliest migrant route in the world.

Tribes often battle for control of profitable routes. U.S. officials state that Tuareg men have kidnapped Europeans, sold them tothe jihadist militia al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, then worked as mediators to ransom them. Mustapha Orghan, an activist that has tracked their operations, say that tribes like the Tuaregs smuggle goods, including African migrants who get sold from one smuggler to another. An African migrant named Ismail has recently attempted to cross the sea three times but could not due to overcrowding and the deterioration of cheap plastic boats. Syrians who aren’t discriminated by Arab smugglers and can often pay more, however, typically cross the sea in wooden boats that are sturdier.

Despite the arrests of over 1,000 smugglers since the beginning of 2014, officials in Europe and Libya claim that it is difficult to make substantial progress in stopping this brazen business due to the collapse in Libya and the race by militias and tribes to obtain money in order to fuel conflict. Libya, according to Col. Mohamed Dindi of the Libyan Coast Guard, is not the only country with this problem. Sudan, Chad, Greece, as well as Italy also have to deal with risky transport. Migrant aid groups claim that Europe should establish “safe and legal channels” where refugees could request asylum from their home countries in order to discourage migrants from putting their lives in smugglers’ hands.

Charmaine Santos is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biology as well as minors in Chemistry and Health Studies. She volunteers alongside UCSF medical students at a student-run homeless clinic in San Francisco and is also an active volunteer with Operation Access. Charmaine is also a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.

Stevis, Matina. (2015, April 20). “Rich Smuggling Trade Fuels Deadly Migration Across Mediterranean.” Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 26, 2015 from http://www.wsj.com/articles/rich-smuggling-trade-fuels-deadly-migration-across-mediterranean-1429576356

Photo Credit: (Frontex) https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2015-04-24/eu-leaders-mull-military-action-destroy-people-smuggling-vessels