Cathy Miller, PhD, RN, professor of nursing at The University of Texas at Tyler, presented her research on human trafficking to the World Health Organization at the United Nations in New York. The UT Tyler professor is part of a team spearheading the UN’s Global Strategic Operatives for the Eradication of Human Trafficking Initiative. The GSO aims to provide human trafficking education and assistance with the development of policies and procedures to guide health care providers and hospital staff with the provision of trauma-informed care and appropriate referral of human trafficking victims.
“Trafficking in Persons is recognized as a global pandemic with tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of human-beings being victimized every day,” said Miller. “We will never know the true extent of the problem due to the hidden nature of the crime. Evidence shows that most of the world’s TIP victims are from our most vulnerable and marginalized populations, are never identified and therefore, never receive the health care and other after-care support they need through the referrals of health care providers.”
After two studies spanning four years with five of the largest health care systems in the U.S. and five international health care systems in Italy, Nigeria, Ethiopia and India, Miller and her colleagues developed a framework to guide the development of health care policies and procedures that could be adopted and adapted internationally. The proposed procedure framework, presented to WHO for consideration, will define how to recognize, identify and implement a trauma-informed, survivor-informed, person-centered, culturally appropriate response to trafficked persons seeking health care. Currently, there is not a universally customizable response procedure framework to guide the health care providers’ response when a trafficking victim seeks medical care, Miller said.
UT Tyler Honors and junior nursing students Andrea Reyes of Mesquite and Kevin Larios of Houston also joined Miller for the presentation at the UN as part of the Honors Program curriculum.
“We are proud of Dr. Cathy Miller and the work she is doing to shed light on human trafficking and to help improve health care on a global scale,” said UT Tyler President Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP. An estimated 40.3 million people are enslaved through trafficking in over 167 countries. The GSO reported evidence that shows 88% to 92% of survivors sought out medical care while being trafficked. Evidence has also shown that health care providers may be the only professionals who interact with enslaved individuals while under the control of their trafficker/traffickers, Miller added.
Miller serves as GSO’s director of research and scholarship and the principal investigator of the domestic and international studies.
Miller joined the UT Tyler faculty in 2018. She has more than 25 years of experience as an ER, ICU and trauma registered nurse. She has worked with anti-human trafficking organizations for over 12 years and cared for victims and survivors in the clinical setting for over 20 years. As founder and president of Miller Health Care Consulting, she serves as a subject matter expert for various law firms, the U.S. Attorney’s Office–Southern District of Texas and the Rusk County District Attorney’s office.
Miller also serves as a consultant and trainer for the U.S. Office of Trafficking in Persons National Human Trafficking Training and Assistance Center’s SOAR program. She is co-founder and co-chair of the Texas Coastal Bend Border Region Human Trafficking Task Force and is an invited member of the North Texas Academic Collaborative Against Trafficking, improving evidence-based outcomes for the Texas Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team.
With a mission to improve educational and healthcare outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT Tyler offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs to 10,000 students. UT Tyler recently merged with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (now known as UT Tyler Health Science Center). Through its alignment with UT Tyler Health Science Center (HSC) and UT Health East Texas, UT Tyler has unified these entities to serve Texas with quality education, cutting-edge research and excellent patient care. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.