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Christian Medical Association Calls on President Bush, Healthcare Providers to Launch Campaign to Help Medical Professionals Report Modern-Day Slavery Victims

Alert Coincides with 'The Amazing Change' Movement and 200th Anniversary of Ending Slave Trade


Contact: Margie Shealy, Christian Medical Association, 888-231-2637, 423-341-4254 cell, margie.shealy@cmda.org


WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association today called on President Bush, federal agencies and healthcare providers to organize medical specialty groups to lead a national educational campaign aimed at helping healthcare providers recognize, report and treat victims of human trafficking, or modern-day slavery. Doctors and nurses are in a vital position to recognize and report victims, whose captors take them to hospitals and clinics for health care when victims' labor is hampered by injury or disease.


The call to healthcare professionals coincides with the 200th anniversary of ending the slave trade in Britain and also with the premier of the film Amazing Grace, coming to theaters Feb. 23. That film, based on the life of Christian abolitionist William Wilberforce, has helped launch "The Amazing Change" campaign to motivate people to speak out against modern-day slavery.


The CMA, the nation's largest faith-based association of physicians, has been working with officials in the White House, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and at the U.S. Department of State, and speaking nationwide to promote education for healthcare professionals regarding human trafficking. The U.S. State Department recently recognized CMA as a "modern-day abolitionist" for its work regarding the health aspects of human trafficking.


CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens said, "Physicians know that diseases thought to have been permanently defeated years ago sometimes rear their ugly heads in a subsequent generation. That's what has happened with modern-day slavery. We are slowly waking up to the fact that 200 years after William Wilberforce extinguished the slave trade in Britain, and nearly 150 years after Americans ended the horrendous practice, human slavery is still terrorizing millions of children, women and men worldwide--including the United States.


"Healthcare providers stand in a unique position to help report these victims and thus facilitate their rescue. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made a good start at educating healthcare professionals, yet we still have a long way to go. Most doctors still don't know how to recognize the signs of slavery. One study revealed that 28 percent of human trafficking victims during their captivity actually encountered a healthcare professional--yet not one report was made that could have set those captives free.


"We must move ahead with a concerted nationwide effort to train healthcare professionals how to work with local and federal authorities in rescuing these victims.


"We call on President Bush and the Department of Health and Human Services to convene the leaders of medical professional organizations and develop strategies to launch a nationwide campaign to educate healthcare professionals to help stop modern-day slavery. If medical specialty groups take the lead in educating their members, and government leaders help raise awareness for training healthcare providers, we can together begin to turn the tide toward abolition. Every healthcare professional trained to recognize and report victims will bring us one step closer to setting these captives free."


CMA is offering downloadable Category One Continuing Medical Education materials on its web site for healthcare professionals to use in learning how to identify patients who may be held against their will for purposes of prostitution or labor.


Dr. Jeffrey Barrows is an obstetrician-gynecologist who prepared the materials and has educated healthcare providers and others nationwide. He leads CMA's anti-trafficking efforts as consultant on human trafficking.


Dr. Barrows said, "Since healthcare providers are among the privileged few to encounter trafficking victims while they are still in captivity, we owe it to these suffering victims to become as educated as possible regarding the various signs that the patient we are caring for may in fact be a modern-day slave."


Dr. Barrows also noted that anyone who suspects a case of human trafficking should report it to local officials or call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.


Dr. Barrows is available for interviews.