Human trafficking is a very real issue in Central Iowa. Last year, local documentary filmmaker, Vanessa McNeal released Gridshock interviewing survivors of human trafficking right here in our own community. There is no turning a blind eye to the problem that exists.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and according to the the declaration from the White House, some estimates are that 24.9 million people are trafficked every year.
Eighty-five percent of trafficking victims reported seeking medical care directly related to their work or exploitation while they were still being trafficked (Polaris Project). This statistic means that it is critical for everyone working in health care to understand and know the signs and common health conditions related to human trafficking.
What can we do?
- As providers, learn the mental and physical signs of trafficking
- Build trust with our patients to ensure that our clinics are a place where they feel that they can ask for help.
- If one of our patients is experiencing trafficking and in a medical appointment the team is there to assist you. At Primary Health Care we have Behavioral Health Consultants on staff who are able to talk about what their options are and make a health plan about how we can help them.
At the end of the day, knowledge is power, and by being aware that human trafficking is a reality in our community as providers we are better able to respond and be part of ending the exploitation.