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July 23, 2014

Healthcare Workers Can Help Fight Human Trafficking

Victims of human trafficking are typically isolated from society by their abusers – but one group of people comes into contact with up to 50 percent of victims while still in captivity: healthcare professionals. According to a recent report issued by Dr. Aimee M. Grace of the Children’s National Health System, “Healthcare professionals are well positioned to be first responders for victims of human trafficking who present to the healthcare setting.”

Victims of human trafficking often face severe and chronic health problems, such as physical trauma, sexually transmitted infections, unhealthy weight loss, and suicidal thoughts. For healthcare professionals to identify victims and take appropriate action, specialized training is needed. While various resources are available for service providers, “The opportunity exists for medical schools, residency programs, health professional organizations and societies, and national regulatory bodies to ensure that human trafficking education becomes part of medical school instruction and residency training,” according to Grace and colleagues.

By receiving this training healthcare professionals may avoid becoming passive enablers of human trafficking unbeknownst to them.