Health Workers Can Help Fight Human Trafficking

Photo: Donald De La Haye Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer (left), addresses the recent launch of a standard operating procedures (SOP) manual on human trafficking for healthcare workers. She is joined by Director, Organised Crime and Defence Unit in the Ministry of National Security, Captain Steve Bachelor.

Story Highlights

  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, is urging healthcare professionals to be vigilant when administering care, as they are well-positioned to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.
  • “It is important for you to treat victims carefully, sensitively and supportively, given their vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The traffickers may have confiscated identification documents and money, so it is not easy to access help. So, sometimes you are the help,” she noted.
  • The Permanent Secretary, who is also Chairman of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), said the procedures outline the protocol for dealing with victims, and it is important that professionals be non-judgemental and show empathy and respect at all times.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, is urging healthcare professionals to be vigilant when administering care, as they are well-positioned to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.

She said it is incumbent on them, as front-line responders, to learn about the risk factors and clinical manifestations of human trafficking.

“It is important for you to treat victims carefully, sensitively and supportively, given their vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The traffickers may have confiscated identification documents and money, so it is not easy to access help. So, sometimes you are the help,” she noted.

Mrs. Palmer was speaking at the launch of the standard operating procedures (SOP) manual on human trafficking for healthcare workers on Monday (January 8), at the Ministry’s Constant Spring Road offices in St. Andrew.

The Permanent Secretary, who is also Chairman of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), said the procedures outline the protocol for dealing with victims, and it is important that professionals be non-judgemental and show empathy and respect at all times.

Among the recommendations is that the authorities should not be called without the consent of the victims, in light of the potentially legitimate concerns regarding their well-being and that of their loved ones. This, however, does not apply in the case of children and adolescents, who may require immediate placement in State care.

“The needs of victims may be complex, because individuals who have experienced violence and trauma are vulnerable to further exploitation,” Mrs. Palmer pointed out.

She further encouraged healthcare workers “to not shy away” from participating in any court proceedings that may arise due to their exposure to a possible victim.

The SOP document, titled ‘Management of Suspected Victims of Trafficking in Persons Protocol for Health Workers’, is designed to be used as a guide and contains pertinent information concerning the identification and protection of victims.

It provides guidelines relating to the stabilisation of patients, importance of confidentiality, requisite documentation, consent and referral of suspected victims.
Some 500 healthcare workers in the private and public sectors will be trained this year to better respond to victims of human trafficking.

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