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Engaging Stakeholders in Solving a Public Health Issue


HIV/AIDS is a global public health scourge that has forced public health stakeholders to develop unconventional strategies to manage it (AIDS Centre, 2010). However, most of them have failed to meet their goals because of the poor execution of these strategies. Poor stakeholder engagement is one cause of this outcome (National Association of County & City Health Officials, n.d.). Public health officials recognize this fact because they acknowledge that, although partnerships are important in providing care and rehabilitation services for HIV victims, stakeholder engagement could be a challenging process (Varda, 2014). Based on this concern, this paper identifies key stakeholder engagement strategies and challenges in HIV/AIDS management. However, before embarking on this process, it is, first, important to explain the key stakeholders who manage this public health issue and the selection criterion for identifying them.

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Key Stakeholders and Constituencies for HIV/AIDS Management

Different kinds of stakeholders are important in managing HIV/AIDS as a public health issue. This paper shows that these key stakeholders work at three levels of intervention – policy, community, and individual. At a policy level, government agencies are important stakeholders (AIDS Centre, 2010). At a community level, schools, media, workplaces, and churches are instrumental stakeholders in HIV prevention. Lastly, at an individual level, people and communities are similarly important stakeholders in managing HIV/AIDS as a public health issue (AIDS Centre, 2010).

Why these Stakeholders and Constituencies

This paper chooses the above-mentioned stakeholders because they contribute to the HIV fight at different levels of intervention. For example, the media are instrumental in reducing HIV stigma by promoting the use of non-discriminatory language in public spheres (AIDS Centre, 2010). Similarly, they are instrumental in improving communication activities for HIV/AIDS programs. Government agencies are instrumental in improving the national response to HIV/AIDS through capacity building. Community organizations champion grass-root initiatives for preventing HIV transmission and provide care and support to the victims (AIDS Centre, 2010). These organizations also support lobbying and advocacy activities to improve public health response to the scourge. Lastly, at an individual level, people are important stakeholders in the HIV fight because their perceptions of AIDS determine the success, or failure, of public health initiatives (AIDS Centre, 2010).

Stakeholder Engagement Strategies

Stakeholder engagement in public health is important if public health practitioners want to make significant gains in the HIV/AIDS fight (Varda, Shoup, & Miller, 2012). Having an open communication plan is one instrumental strategy that public health workers have used to meet the above objective (FSANZ, 2013). For example, Maura Rossman (a public health administrator cited in Laureate Education, 2014) says she used this strategy to engage her stakeholders in mental health management. Communication is crucial in getting their support. Inclusiveness is also another viable stakeholder engagement strategy for public health officials. This strategy thrives on the need for public health officials to make sure there is a fair and balanced engagement of all stakeholders (FSANZ, 2013). The third stakeholder engagement strategy hinges on upholding appropriateness and structure. This engagement strategy is popular in large institutions because they provide a structured approach for engaging all stakeholders. Here, the engagement process is mindful of all realities about HIV/AIDS management (Vardae t al., 2012).

What are the Challenges?

Stakeholder engagement often yields positive results. However, some challenges often impede the process. Poor strategy implementation is one significant challenge in this regard because although the stakeholders may agree about what they need to do to improve public health programs, it is difficult to figure out who will do what and when (Laureate Education, 2014). Another challenge that affects stakeholder engagement is wavering stakeholder support. This challenge mainly manifests when stakeholders have opposing views, or interests, in the public health program (Laureate Education, 2014).

Why these Challenges Exist

This paper shows that the main challenges, which impede stakeholder engagement, include poor strategy implementation and wavering stakeholder support. The latter challenge exists (mainly) because some health professionals fail to include important stakeholders during the first process of formulating public health programs (Koppich, 2010). The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2014) says this problem breeds mistrust and misunderstanding. For example, some public health officials at Denver’s Rose Community Foundation (in America) experienced this problem by excluding educators when formulating a public health program (Koppich, 2010). This omission led to mistrust because the educators were unsure about the goals of the public health program. Implementation challenges also impede stakeholder engagement programs because they create a gap between policy formulation processes and goal attainment. Maura Rossman (a public health collaborator in the US) says she experiences this challenge when engaging her stakeholders (Laureate Education, 2014).


This paper shows that stakeholder engagement is an important part of HIV/AIDS prevention strategies. Key stakeholders are government agencies, media, community organizations, and individuals. Open communication, structured engagement, and inclusiveness are viable engagement strategies that could coordinate the activities of these stakeholders. Although practitioners have used these strategies successfully, this paper shows that poor strategy implementation and wavering stakeholder support may impede success in this regard. Therefore, it is important to educate public health stakeholders about their influences when engaging them in HIV/AIDS prevention and management.

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AIDS Centre. (2010). AIDS Stakeholders – Institutions Involved in HIV/AIDS Response in Moldova. Web.

FSANZ. Stakeholder Engagement Strategy 2013-2016. Web.

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2014). Primary care and public health: Exploring integration to improve population health. Web.

Koppich, J. (2010). Meeting the Challenges of Stakeholder Engagement and Communication. Web.

Laureate Education. (2014). Engaging Communities and Building Constituencies: The Healthy Howard Program. Web.

National Association of County & City Health Officials. (n.d.). Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP). Web.

Varda, D. M. (2014). PARTNER: Program to analyze, record, and track networks to enhance relationships. Web.

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Varda, D., Shoup, J. A., & Miller, S. (2012). A systematic review of collaboration and network research in the public affairs literature: Implications for public health practice and research. American Journal of Public Health, 102(3), 564–571.

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