Human trafficking, although commonly conceived of as a crime, is also a matter for the fields of health and public health. Trafficked individuals suffering physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse can experience acute and chronic health sequelae, bringing them to the attention of health and/or mental health professionals. Communicable infections affect many trafficked individuals and can be transmitted to those not trafficked. The factors that contribute to people being trafficked, like poverty, educational disparities, and systematic oppression based upon identities, are multifaceted and interlinked with other trauma experiences. Incorporation of public health principles into anti-trafficking efforts facilitates a comprehensive and holistic prevention/intervention anti-trafficking strategy. This commentary illustrates how both the health care and public health sectors can contribute to improving the health and well-being of trafficked people, the general public, and to anti-trafficking efforts.

Author Biography

Frances Recknor, DrPH LCSW is a clinical assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine Human Trafficking Program in Houston, TX. Active in Houston’s anti-trafficking community since 2013, she has partnered with the victim service provider sub-committee of the local human trafficking task force and nongovernmental organizations to improve services for trafficked people. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked for 15 years as a social worker in the Texas Medical Center. Her research interests include health and human rights; violence and public health; child protection; bioethics; and exploitative practices in human trafficking, transnational gestational surrogacy, cross border reproductive care, and inter-country adoption. Makini Chisolm-Straker, MD MPH is an emergency medicine specialist at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Brooklyn, and the Co-Founder and Treasurer of HEAL Trafficking. Working in the anti-trafficking movement since 2005, she has collaborated with other anti-trafficking, and child and youth protection agencies on relevant research and educational endeavors. She co-edited the textbook, "Human Trafficking is a Public Health Issue: A Paradigm Expansion in the United States." Her research focuses on invisible populations, and she has worked as a consultant, researcher, clinician, and administrator all over the world.