Each January, we acknowledge National Human Trafficking Prevention Month and shine a highlight on the toll human trafficking takes on people, households, and communities. Greater than 27 million folks expertise human trafficking globally and circumstances have been reported in each state and territory within the U.S.
As a public well being situation, trafficking disproportionately impacts populations served by HHS. Traffickers concentrate on youth and adults whose vulnerability is elevated due to poverty, homelessness, household instability, and different types of trauma. Individuals might develop acute, long-term, and intergenerational well being and behavioral well being penalties from accidents, hazardous working circumstances, and traumatic experiences of violence and abuse related to their trafficking.
With an issue of this magnitude, well being care suppliers have to be a part of the response to and prevention of trafficking. I used to be simply in Arizona in December, the place I spoke with docs and nurses at a bunch of native clinics working within the cities of Douglas and Bisbee close to the U.S.-Mexico border. They described working with girls who’ve skilled trafficking and connecting them with a number of sorts of medical care and interventions to deal with their bodily, behavioral, and emotional wants. Along with providing these sorts of care, medical professionals may also help make different care professionals conscious of danger components and warning indicators that they might be interacting with somebody who has skilled trafficking. Well being professionals may provide language translation and culturally acceptable care each time doable and might work with different social companies of their group to make sure a continuity of care and well-being for folks impacted by trafficking who come by their doorways.
In line with one examine, 67% of trafficking survivors accessed well being care companies whereas being trafficked, but their state of affairs was unrecognized as a result of not each well being care skilled might really feel geared up to determine and reply to the wants of those sufferers.
To handle this downside, HHS’ Administration for Youngsters and Households (ACF) Office on Trafficking in Persons, in partnership with the Workplace on Ladies’s Well being developed, SOAR to Well being and Wellness, a nationally acknowledged, accredited coaching program to assist well being care and social service suppliers determine, deal with, and reply to sufferers who’ve skilled trafficking. SOAR is grounded in a trauma-informed and person-centered method that respects the dignity of trafficking survivors and focuses on their well-being. Accredited SOAR Online training modules are free on the TRAIN Studying Administration System.
Well being care professionals may evaluation core competencies for Human Trafficking Response in Well being Care and Behavioral Well being System, developed by a collaboration between well being care associations, advocacy organizations, and consultants with lived expertise in trafficking. The competencies information well being care professionals, organizations, researchers, and educators by institutionalizing a complete public well being method to human trafficking throughout well being care and behavioral well being techniques.
Well being care leaders must also be involved concerning the function of pressured labor in well being and public well being provide chains. We’re working to make sure entry to well being care items and companies whereas defending the welfare of employees in world provide chains.
Final 12 months, HHS Secretary Becerra shaped the HHS Process Drive to Forestall Human Trafficking to implement the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and create better consciousness concerning the scope of this downside. I’m honored to co-chair this effort with ACF Assistant Secretary Contreras. We’re working with many devoted folks throughout the Division who share the imaginative and prescient of bringing aid to survivors right now and, sooner or later, ending human trafficking.