This past week saw another successful training where I presented “Health and Human Trafficking: What Health Professionals Need to Know” in Vientiane, Laos, 2-4 September. This conference was hosted by the Maternal Child Health Hospital and sponsored by Village Focus International. Twenty-six physicians, nurses, and other stakeholders from several government hospitals, public health officials, as well as NGOs such as United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP), World Vision, International Organization for Migration (IOM), and others participated in the three-day workshop.
The local news paper, The Vientiane Times, was invited to the opening remarks. I was interviewed, but I ended up not being mentioned at all in the article (which miffed my sponsor greatly, since I was the expert invited to give the workshop) and the article (printed 3 Sept) was completely wrong and didn’t even report about what the workshop was really about. The workshop was about training health care professionals in caring for trafficked people, but the article just discusses a forth-coming manual that will standardize care for trafficked people among stakeholders in Laos. The manual is being developed (I’m also on that development team) but that is not what we discussed. That is the press for you – same story, different country.
What most of the attendees at these conferences are most interested in learning is about mental health care of trafficked survivors. What they come away with is a new understanding about the traumatic circumstances trafficked people experience and the various psychological reactions that they suffer. Then they learn about psychological “first aid” and trauma-informed care and how it doesn’t take much to do so much for traumatized people. This information is encouraging to those who want to do the best for the people in their care, but are often so strapped in people and financial resources.
Of course, many people still need more intensive care. Studies report that on average, about 50% of trafficked people six months into an aftercare program have a diagnosed mental health disorder – most of those suffer a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The principles of health care for trafficked people, such as trauma-informed care,
identification of victims, how to interview trafficked people, child protection, caring for the whole person, and guiding principles are very nascent concepts and the information was well-received. I believe there will be more workshop opportunities in the future.
The Health and Human Trafficking workshop can last up to two days, but may be modified based on the needs and the time that is available. Please let me know if you are interested in having me visit to present to your community. For an overview of the workshop, please click on the link below.