Addressing human trafficking as a public health issue
Human trafficking is increasingly recognized as a significant global public health issue. Human trafficking (HT) exists in all nations, including Canada, and is estimated to impact 25 million people globally. HT is a crime that is not always visible. It is associated with a myriad of deleterious health outcomes arising from adverse living and working conditions, and the physical, sexual, and/or psychological violence often accompanying it. Human trafficking also disproportionately affects people living under vulnerable circumstances, particularly those with intersecting vulnerabilities. Public health can advance health equity for trafficked persons and add value to existing anti-trafficking (AT) efforts. Among its many contributions, public health can bring its expertise in health promotion and surveillance. While efforts to incorporate a public health perspective are already underway in at least the United States and the United Kingdom, the nexus of public health and AT is still nascent and requires further development. A public health approach to trafficking focused on intervening on the upstream drivers of well-being can add value to the extant counter-trafficking paradigm. This commentary is intended to catalyze discussion in Canada and elsewhere as to what public health can contribute to this emergent field.
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