Engaging key stakeholders to ensure the right to HIV/AIDS education and health care services

Engaging key stakeholders, particularly a transport worker’s union, has been highly effective in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS by establishing a program of advocacy and service to address STIs and HIV in Bangladesh. While Bangladesh’s HIV infection rate is low, it is surrounded by countries with high levels of the virus. Transport workers are particularly vulnerable and at risk to get and spread HIV/AIDS in the country. To prevent the spread of the disease, the development agency CARE-Bangladesh successfully worked to build the trust and respect of the transport union workers, and developed their program alongside the civil society participants.

The organization emphasized a sense of ownership for the stakeholders, and actively involved them in all parts of the development and implementation, with plans to give the project completely over to the participants. By creating the sense of ownership and holding the transport workers accountable and responsible, CARE-Bangladesh succeeded in creating a sustainable and holistic health and prevention program, which resulted in a nationwide service network. The network consists of 45 drop-in centers, and 4,000 transport workers receive services every month from the program.

As HIV/AIDS is a disease that knows no borders, even countries with low rates of infection must work activly to make sure the disease does not spread. In the case of Bangladesh, a country with very low rates of HIV/AIDS, Care-Bangladesh worked together with the Bangladesh Truck Driver’s Federation - a transport workers’ union - to prevent the spread of the disease before it becomes a larger problem for the country.

In combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, CARE-Bangladesh built a strong partnership with Bangladesh Truck Driver’s Federation, since truckdrivers, together with other persons who travel in their work, are more prone to be exposed to the disease. Instead of waiting for the epidemic to arrive, CARE Bangladesh sought a proactive strategy that would prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Together, CARE-Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Truck Driver’s Federation implemented a program of advocacy including health education and services through integrated partnership. Particularly important was the cultivation of a sense of ownership of the project on the part of the truckers union, including the employment of paid peer educators and the use of union premises for outreach work and health services. They also initiated a behavioural change program to prevent an HIV/AIDS epidemic and to provide quality health care services to transport workers, especially truckers.

By holding the Bangladesh Truck Driver’s Federation accountable and responsible, CARE-Bangladesh has facilitated a process whereby the workers’ union has become an implementer of health care services, including prevention services, related to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. The active involvement of the union has brought many positive results. Its participation and sense of ownership have been essential in sustaining the program and making it socially acceptable. Union involvement was also instrumental in the scaling up of project activities and the ability to quickly create a nationwide service network.

CARE-Bangladesh is a country office of CARE International, a humanitarian organization based in Atlanta, Georgia. CARE International has been present in Bangladesh since 1955.

A tactical notebook, is available for more in-depth understanding of how CARE-Bangladesh involved key stakeholders in the task of HIV/AIDS prevention in Bangladesh.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

New Tactics in Human Rights does not advocate for or endorse specific tactics, policies or issues.