Background: Myanmar is a source country for men, women, and children who are subject to human trafficking and forced labor. Given that human trafficking and forced labor victims frequently experience physical and mental health concerns, healthcare practitioners have a unique opportunity to identify and assist victims. This study aims to understand the attitudes, perspectives, and levels of comfort for healthcare providers in caring for victims of human trafficking. It also seeks to understand the types of additional educational resources that could better equip medical personnel to improve care for survivors of human trafficking.
Methods: A 20-question survey collected data anonymously from a convenience sample of healthcare providers that attended a one-day emergency care conference in Yangon, Myanmar.
Results: While a significant number (70%) of medical professionals surveyed reported that they feel the problem of abuses for labor or sex in the community was "serious" or "very serious", a majority of them felt neutral or uncomfortable about identifying patients that are currently being abused in some way. Only 2% of respondents felt comfortable identifying victims of abuse. Over half of the healthcare workers surveyed indicated they would be interested in attending conferences, symposia, or lectures specific to human trafficking and receiving training in identifying victims and assisting victims of exploitation.
Conclusions: Health care providers in Myanmar consider labor and sex trafficking as a significant problem in their community, but do not feel adequately trained to identify and help victims of exploitation. Given that even brief educational interventions can increase providers knowledge and self-reported recognition of human trafficking victims, there is a window of opportunity in Myanmar to provide training to currently practicing health providers.