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    Melony Hilton
    Melony Hilton, RN, MBA, FACMPE


    Human trafficking is a global health and human rights issue [28] involving the exploitation of 40.3 million people [29] and yielding profits of more than $150 billion per year [32]. It is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and is the second largest source of income for organized crime second to drug trade [17]. It is believed that the Human Trafficking industry at some point may bypass drug trafficking as a bag of cocaine can be sold once but a human can be sold repeatedly [32]. The United States is one of the largest markets for human trafficking and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center reports it is happening in all 50 states. Estimates suggest that internationally only 0.4% of the survivors of human trafficking cases are identified indicating that the vast majority go undetected [1]. 

    According to a recent article by the American Medical Association, more than 85 percent of survivors were seen by a healthcare professional while being trafficked [12]. Healthcare workers are one of the few groups of professionals likely to interact with a victim while they are still in captivity [20]. Providers can be a victim’s most promising lifeline when they have the knowledge and tools to identify and respond appropriately. However, in the situation where it is missed, the victims will return from a medical encounter back to their lives of coercion, manipulation and in many cases abuse. To be able to serve this vulnerable population, providers must be able to identify and provide care with a trauma-informed approach while factoring in the safety, legal and ethical issues.

    The organization will develop a comprehensive educational program to ensure that key stakeholders are trained and equipped to identify and respond to trafficking victims. This education program will have an emphasis on 3 different areas: Non-clinical/Clinical Staff, Community, and Residency/Students. The first area of emphasis will focus on training key non-clinical/clinical staff who would be interacting with trafficking victims throughout the continuum of care to provide an overview and educate them on red flags. Community involvement, the second emphasis, will be a key aspect to the success of the program. The organization will focus on working with local law enforcement to educate key stakeholders in the community such as educators, housing authorities, government officials and businesses focused on farming, construction, manufacturing, and domestic services. Since the organization is associated with graduate residency/nursing/allied health programs, the final area of emphasis is on educating residents/students on human trafficking basics as well as strategies and interventions.

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