At least 800 health workers in the public and private sectors will, this year, undergo training to identify victims of human trafficking, even as the Government steps up the fight against this scourge.
Sancia Bennett Templer, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, encouraged health-sector workers to join in the fight to break the cycle of violence, noting that as many as 88 per cent of sex-trafficking victims ended up at health facilities.
“Health plays an important role because oftentimes these persons may present at health facilities because of any health crisis that may arise while they are here in Jamaica or while they are held in these kinds of circumstances,” said Bennett Templer. She asserted that it was important for health-care workers engaged in primary care, emergency care, mental health and paediatrics to be positioned to identify victims of human trafficking.
Bennett Templer’s comments came yesterday at the launch of the health Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to deal with victims of human trafficking that was held at the Ministry of Justice’s Constant Spring Road headquarters in Kingston.
Chairman of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons, Carol Palmer, said that the health SOPs being launched affirmed the country’s commitment to tackle the international criminal network.
The SOPs highlight the protocol for dealing with victims of human trafficking.
Palmer, who is also the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, said the SOPs recommend that the authorities should not be called without the consent of the victim, citing concerns regarding the safety of family members. However, she argued that this did not apply to children who would require immediate placement in state care.
She further pointed out that if health workers discovered that children in their care were victims of human trafficking, they would be obliged to make a report to the police.