Maternal and Child Health Program Aims to Increase Awareness of Human Trafficking Among Public Health and Healthcare Practitioners
April 19, 2022
In recognition of Human Trafficking Prevention Month which is observed each January, the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Catalyst Program at Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health, in partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services Region III Anti-Trafficking Task Force, hosted a two-part webinar series on human trafficking and increasing awareness among public health and healthcare practitioners.
Part one of this series featured Alexis Polen, Region III Liaison with the HHS Office on Trafficking in Persons, and Dawn Schiller, an expert survivor-leader in anti-trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault movements.
"I liked how we had the chance to hear a survivor share her story and the importance she placed on communication, and how language and tone really matter." - Vishwa Patel, first-year MPH student
Part two of this series featured a talk by Carli Richie-Zavaleta, DrPH ’17 and former MCH trainee, and a panel discussion and presentation on regional anti-trafficking initiatives.
Dr. Richie-Zavaleta shared research findings with recommendations for healthcare practitioners from human trafficking survivors, while the panel discussion provided a unique perspective on human trafficking initiatives and included a forensic nurse, forensic clinical coordinator, and special advisor and forensic interview specialist from the Department of Homeland Security. Human trafficking resources (highlighted below) were also shared with attendees.
Over 150 individuals attended the webinar series, including Drexel faculty, students, staff, and alumni; faculty and students from other universities; MCH professionals across city/county health departments, nonprofit organizations, and crisis centers; and clinicians, nurses, and social workers.
Attendees enjoyed the combination of federal agency and survivor perspectives and reported that the content was relevant and timely. Vishwa Patel, 1st year MPH student in Epidemiology and MCH trainee remarked that “the webinar series was very informative and impactful for me. I had the opportunity to learn about the various programs that are in place federally and locally to help survivors. It was good to see that so many people are invested in these efforts, however, it also made me realize that more work needs to be done to make others aware of this issue. I really liked how we had the chance to hear a survivor share her story and the importance she placed on communication, and how language and tone really matter to truly be able to trust and openly communicate with someone.”
"As I start my career in healthcare management, I hope to take the information I learned to ensure that the right trainings and resources are in place within health systems to support victims and survivors of human trafficking." - Gabby O’Leary, MPH '22
After the webinar series, attendees also stated that they felt more prepared to recognize signs of human trafficking and that the resources provided would be useful in their work.
Gabby O’Leary, a recent MPH graduate (2022) with a concentration in Health Management and Policy and MCH trainee reflected on the importance of trauma-informed care and being aware of potential signs of human trafficking. “The webinar series was very informative and provided important information for public health and healthcare professionals. Hearing a survivor’s story was incredibly impactful, and the speakers provided valuable information on how healthcare providers can be more trauma-informed when working with survivors. As I start my career in healthcare management, I hope to take the information I learned to ensure that the right trainings and resources are in place within health systems to support victims and survivors of human trafficking.”
Human Trafficking Resources
Learn more about Dornsife’s MCH program and opportunities for MCH trainees and prospective students.
Dornsife's Maternal and Child Health Program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.