Enabling health services in developing countries to address the needs of the intended beneficiaries is difficult. In most of these countries health services don’t yet work efficiently, especially for the most disadvantaged members of the population with the greatest need for these services. In an attempt to involve the public, and to provide evidence that planners and policy makers can use to improve services, social audits are used.
Community Information, Empowerment and Transparency (CIET) has developed, applied, and refined methods of social audit over the last 25 years and a new supplement entitled ‘Social audit: building the community voice into health service delivery and planning’ published in BMC Health Services Research contributes to clarifying the concepts and practice of social audit. The supplement brings together in one place a collection of articles about social audits that have been carried out in a wide variety of settings over the last 25 years.
Articles range from detailed methodological articles, the practicalities and pitfalls of undertaking social audits for those who want to use this approach, to country-specific articles. Social audits are set in context by articles about the philosophy and development of the methods, from the early days to the present and future developments.
In the present global economic recession, funding for health services in all countries, not least in developing countries, is under threat. Governments struggle to cope and funding agencies and officials of donor countries are increasingly requiring evidence that their money is having an impact. Social audits can help to answer questions about effectiveness and impact of services and interventions, at the same time allowing the voice of the ordinary people concerned to be heard and incorporated into how services are delivered.
Readers are invited to join the discussions by using the ‘comment’ option below each individual article.