The Health Care Professional as a Modern Abolitionist

Fall 2012 - Volume 16 Number 4

Re: O'Callaghan MG. The health care professional as a modern abolitionist. Perm J 2012 Spring;16(2):67-9.

We were excited to read the commentary by Michael O'Callaghan in the Spring 2012 issue of The Permanente Journal about health care professionals stepping up as abolitionists. Health care professionals often come into contact with trafficked persons and can provide one avenue of escape. Both the author and the journal deserve applause for bringing attention to this large-scale atrocity.

Human trafficking for the purposes of sex or forced labor occurs in major urban areas in the US. Because of abuse, neglect, and low—if any—compensation, the victims often enter the physician's office or Emergency Department with major health problems and no insurance to cover necessary services. That is, of course, conditional upon their being lucky enough to survive (or perhaps escape) their forced labor so that they can even access a clinician and present their ailment(s).

We agree with Dr O'Callaghan that more awareness must be raised among health care professionals about human trafficking, and that medical centers need to develop a team of health care professionals who are trained to help trafficking victims transition physically, mentally, and emotionally out of their enslavement into a productive civilian life.

On this front, we are excited to report that many biomedical research scientists adamantly agree that human trafficking is the scourge of our time. Biomedical researchers rarely encounter victims of trafficking who are in need of medical attention, but they comprise a crucial population of people who study the trends of human slavery, the unique health care necessities of trafficked victims, and the adverse economic impact of modern human slavery. We are part of a group of scientists, clinicians, social workers, and scholars who are starting a new science magazine called Cancer InCytes, which will promote cancer research, social justice, and the intersection of the two. We hope that this magazine will raise more awareness of social justice issues among those interested in cancer research, cancer treatment, and cancer survivorship. We are eager to provide a forum for questions to be asked, problems to be presented, and solutions to be considered.

David H Nguyen, PhD

Editor-in-Chief, Cancer InCytes Magazine

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Berkeley, CA 

Juliana Zhu, Esq

Senior Editor, Cancer InCytes Magazine

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Berkeley, CA


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