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Community intervention trials
Social audit of public services
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2011.12.21 - Special collection of articles on Social Audit published

2011.12.21 - Special collection of articles on Social Audit published


Social audit: building the community voice into health service delivery and planning 

BMC Health Services Research, volume 11, supplement 2


(All articles can be downloaded free of charge)


Health services in most developing countries don't work well, certainly from the point of view of the intended beneficiaries, including the most disadvantaged members of the population who need the services most. CIET has developed, applied, and refined methods of social audit over the last 25 years, in an effort to involve the public, and provide evidence that planners and policy makers can use to improve services. The term social audit can mean different things to different people; this supplement contributes to clarifying the concepts and practice of social audit.

The supplement brings together in one place a collection of articles about social audits carried out in a variety of settings over the last 25 years. Other articles discuss the philosophy of social audit, how is methods have developed from the early days to the present and the new directions that upcoming social audits will take. None of the articles in the supplement have been published elsewhere; many of the social audits have not been described at all other than in technical reports produced when and where they were carried out.




The supplement is very timely. 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 governments of donor countries are increasingly demanding 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 the ways that services are delivered. The supplement is a unique collection of articles that will give readers an understanding of social audit methods and how they can be applied in a range of settings, based on the hundreds of person-years' experience of the authors.

Most of the articles are written in straightforward language and are accessible to members of the public concerned about the problems of delivery of health and other public services. While the articles nearly all describe social audits in developing countries, they have resonance even in developed countries, where ordinary people are concerned that services are poorly responsive to their needs and aspirations. There is something for everyone in the supplement: from detailed methodological articles that will interest those working in the field, to articles about the practicalities and pitfalls of undertaking social audits for those who want to use this approach.