January 27, 2023

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 instances have been reported in each state and territory within the U.S.

As a public well being subject, 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. Folks could develop acute, long-term, and intergenerational well being and behavioral well being penalties from accidents, hazardous working situations, 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 handle their bodily, behavioral, and emotional wants. Along with providing these sorts of care, medical professionals will 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 can even supply language translation and culturally acceptable care every time potential and may work with different social providers of their neighborhood to make sure a continuity of care and well-being for folks impacted by trafficking who come by way of their doorways.

In line with one examine, 67% of trafficking survivors accessed well being care providers whereas being trafficked, but their state of affairs was unrecognized as a result of not each well being care skilled could really feel geared up to establish and reply to the wants of those sufferers.

To deal with this drawback, HHS’ Administration for Kids and Households (ACF) Office on Trafficking in Persons, in partnership with the Workplace on Girls’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 establish, deal with, and reply to sufferers who’ve skilled trafficking. SOAR is grounded in a trauma-informed and person-centered strategy 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 can even evaluate core competencies for Human Trafficking Response in Well being Care and Behavioral Well being System, developed by way of 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 way of institutionalizing a complete public well being strategy to human trafficking throughout well being care and behavioral well being programs.

Well being care leaders also needs to be involved in regards to 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 providers whereas defending the welfare of staff in world provide chains.

Final 12 months, HHS Secretary Becerra shaped the HHS Process Drive to Stop Human Trafficking to implement the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and create better consciousness in regards to the scope of this drawback. 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 reduction to survivors right now and, at some point, ending human trafficking.