Date of this Version
Until very recently, the global health care community has lagged behind in identifying human trafficking as a health care issue. Globally, there is a great gap health care for most survivors of human trafficking today. Health, or rather the lack of it, is a huge factor in addressing trafficking in persons at all stages of the process. Trafficking is a health care issue because addressing the physical and mental health of a survivor is central to the restoration of his or her well-being. Counter-trafficking work is a multi-disciplinary effort and health care professionals can participate in a variety of roles. One of the obvious ways is in providing trauma-informed, competent, and compassionate health care for survivors of human trafficking. Another way is in receiving training and building awareness for more effective identification of victims in the health care setting. Evidence-based medicine is the foundation of our practices today and yet there is little data that documents the health of trafficked people, from their pre-trafficked situation through the long-term after care process. A proper understanding through research of the health risks will help to inform and improve our interventions. Health care professionals may participate in preventive work through outreach to at-risk populations. Advocacy of victims to law enforcement, legal aid, the media and to the general public is also an important role. Dr. Welch will discuss the gaps in health care as well as some of the many ways in which health care professionals can have a profound impact on counter-trafficking efforts.