Health is always an issue for women in prostitution.  Besides the risk of contracting STDs, they face the threat of violence from pimps and customers, and must survive the daily and cumulative stress of exploitation.  Physical, psychological and psychosomatic illnesses are rampant…and medical care is often difficult, if not impossible, to access.

A recent project of Payoke, a Belgian NGO, seeks to understand and change that.

Payoke’s study discovered that 82% of medical doctors say they’ve never been in contact with a victim of human trafficking.  Fully 2/3 of doctors said they weren’t even familiar with the physical complaints related to human trafficking, and 88% said they didn’t know the referral process if they suspected a patient was a victim of trafficking…but wanted to know.   Check out their excellent video, which highlights the need for medical care…and caring medical personnel!

The project has created and published excellent training materials for medical personnel, which should be available soon.   In the meantime, EFN has access to an excellent resource:  Katherine Welch, a Christian pediatrician who specializes in the medical needs of people who are trafficked.

As a global health consultant to organizations that work with trafficked people, Katherine helps to build capacity in developing a more robust health component to their interventions whether is it prevention, outreach, or aftercare. Her organization, Relentless, has developed a training curriculum in training staff of counter-trafficking organizations AND workshops for training health care professionals around the world about the health consequences of human trafficking, identification of victims, and trauma-informed care of survivors. 

Katherine will be in Europe serving EFN partners in April, and is open to returning to work alongside any of you who are interested in receiving training – or offering it to medical professionals in your context!    Visit Katherine’s blog for more resources and contact information.