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Analysis on the Protocol for Global Healthcare Providers  

 “As a society, as nations, as members of the human-race, and as health care providers, we are ethically and morally bound to advocate for our most vulnerable and marginalized populations around the world.”- Sovereign Order of Malta Mission to the United Nations and Global Strategic Operatives for the Eradication of Human Trafficking  

The Woolf Group (TWG) continues to partner with extraordinary leaders in the field fighting human trafficking to bring about real change through policy, advocacy, and training. We were honored to join our colleagues and speak at the United Nations (UN) recently in order to propose the adoption of the Human Trafficking Policy and Protocol for Global Healthcare Providers.  

As discussed in the UN Chamber Meeting, estimates are that nearly 50 million people are trapped in this form of modern-day slavery, with numerous research studies reporting that 88-92% of victims sought medical care while being trafficked. It is abundantly clear that there is a need for healthcare professionals to aid victims of human trafficking. Additionally, there needs to be a policy to formally guide healthcare workers globally, one that defines how to recognize, identify, and implement a trauma-informed, victim-centered response to persons seeking healthcare.  

The Global Strategic Operatives (GSO) conducted a study at 10 leading healthcare systems in the U.S. and internationally which led to the creation of “universal procedures”, accounting for cultural differences, in order to come up with this proposed protocol that closes the gap for healthcare providers. These processes and procedures for healthcare providers and their organizations worldwide include, but are not limited to: 

  • A universal definition of Trafficking in Person (Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking) 
  • A recommendation to have an appointed Human Trafficking (HT) Champion who is the expert within their clinical setting, acting as a liaison between the patient, hospital administration, and community 
  • Maintaining a robust Community Resource List for patient referrals to support victims of abuse, neglect, or violence  
  • Educating staff, physicians and contract employees on the universal “red flags” and risk factors of HT 
  • Best practices for documenting observable signs/symptoms 
  • How to report safety concerns 
  • How to implement a trauma-informed, victim-centered, and culturally appropriate response to trafficked persons seeking health care 

Survey results from the GSO study showed that 76% of the healthcare workers felt “confident” or “very confident” in their ability to identify HT victims in the health care setting after these trainings took place as opposed to only 17% prior to the training feeling “confident” or “very confident” in their ability. Fighting HT with education and training is effective. 

We at TWG are answering the advocacy call by recommending that the World Health Organization accept, adopt, and disseminate the protocol measures to all healthcare providers worldwide. Rescuing a victim of trafficking is the first step in helping that survivor on their long journey to recovery so it is paramount that healthcare workers are equipped with the education and training they need to rescue the millions who cross their paths professionally. 

Bill Woolf, Principal & Strategy Consultant