By Asmau Ahmad
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) says it will offer free medical evaluation and care to victims of human trafficking to aid their quick recovery and reintegration into society.
The NMA Chairman in Lagos State, Dr Adetunji Adenekan, made the disclosure in his goodwill message at an event to commemorate the 2021 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is celebrated annually on July 30 to raise awareness about human trafficking and has “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way” as this year’s theme.
Adenekan said that NMA had recognised that the scourge of human trafficking had both social and health effects on victims.
He listed depression, diminished self-worth, selective mutism, suicidal ideation, sexually transmitted diseases and physical disabilities as some common medical challenges faced by victims of trafficking.
He added that “in the last couple of months, we worked directly with victims of trafficking, rendered psychosocial support and other medical services to survivors.
“We also partnered WOTCLEF to help victims get financial support for business startup,” he said.
According to him, Lagos State serves as a source, transit and destination route for most of the traffickers.
“Women and girls are mostly affected, having been recruited from rural communities and taken into forced prostitution in urban areas.
“Underage boys and girls are also taken from rural communities within and outside the state to prime locations where they are made to serve as domestic helps, vendors and even beggars.
“Being a state with numerous points of entry and exit, traffickers often transit through Lagos State while also getting victims from the state.
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic hardship worsened and this indirectly increased the number of persons trafficked within and outside Nigeria.”
He noted that the medical challenges of the victims and the economic effect of the evil of human trafficking in the state necessitated the need to raise awareness against human trafficking in the society.
Adenekan said that to mark the day, NMA partnered the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF) to raise public awareness.
He said the one-week activities in commemoration of the day also had the Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL) as a partner.
“We hope that through these activities, more people will become aware that we still have people who deal in human trafficking and they use various schemes including job offers in foreign countries.
“Our aim is also to encourage the public to be watchful and promptly report suspected cases of trafficking to NAPTIP, so that victims can get help early enough,” he stressed.