HHS Announces New Action on Health and Human Trafficking at Clinton Global Initiative
By Katherine Chon, Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons
"It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name – modern slavery." President Barack Obama, Sept. 25, 2012
In commemoration of the country’s 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, President Obama delivered a historic speech at last year’s Clinton Global Initiative reinforcing the Administration’s commitment to combat modern forms of slavery. ACF Assistant Secretary George Sheldon joined Assistant to the President and the U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park to report on progress made over the last year across the federal government and renew the call to combat human trafficking.
Assistant Secretary Sheldon also announced that the Department of Health and Human Services will invest new funds in developing a pilot project that will create a national technical working group to strengthen coordination of medical and health system responses to human trafficking by:
- Supporting the development of protocols to manage and provide services to victims of human trafficking
- Training and educating health care providers to recognize signs of human trafficking, identify potential cases, and respond effectively
- Creating a referral mechanism for healthcare professionals to inform and connect with law enforcement agencies, social service providers, and community-based organizations
- Promoting effective, culturally relevant, and trauma-informed care to improve the short-term and long-term health of victims
“This project will alter how we identify and serve victims through our emergency rooms, hospitals, clinics, and ambulatory care facilities,” stated Assistant Secretary George Sheldon. “We know that many trafficking victims come in contact with health care systems. This link is critical and offers a great opportunity to intervene to stop the trafficking and begin the recovery process.”
The new health and human trafficking initiative is a part of the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services to Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, which calls for coordinated, effective, culturally appropriate, and trauma-informed care for victims and survivors. The initiative also follows on the heels of new guidance on child trafficking released by the Administration on Children and Families last month that provides a road map for how child welfare and runaway and homeless youth systems can identify, engage with, and serve victims and survivors of child trafficking.