Social Audit in Health Sector Planning and Program Implementation in India

Audit is defined as “the process by which people, the final beneficiaries of any scheme, program, policies, and laws are empowered to review any scheme, policy, program, or law.”  Social audit is an ongoing process by which the potential beneficiaries and other stakeholders of an activity or project are involved from the planning to the monitoring and evaluation of that activity or project. This concept has amply been used in social sector and that is why the term social audit has come up. There has been increasing interest about the use of this technique in health sector in the developed and developing world, in the last decade. There are well-reported examples of beneficial effect of social audit in increasing program performance in health sector. This article has been written with the objectives to provide basic framework for social audit, note down the steps to be taken, cite specific examples of use of social audit in health sector, and outline the expertise needed and challenges in implementing social audit in health programs in India.