The Millennium Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals which were launched in the years 2000 and 2015, respectively, called for accelerated development efforts to address poverty in all dimensions. Ensuring adequate health for all communities in Ghana is one major opportunity future doctors have to contribute to this global objective.
In line with this, the Community-Based Experience and Service (COBES) programme was established as a flagship programme with the inception of the UCC School of Medical Sciences, through the ingenuity of the Founding Dean, Rev. Prof. H.S. Amonoo-Kuofi. The program is innovative, community-based, problem solving and student-centred. lt additionally gives the students a strong community orientation which serves to increase their awareness of the role of social, cultural and environmental factors in health and the relationship between health and development.
COBES reinforces the roles played by doctors and other health professionals, as well as government and civil society in healthcare delivery. During the COBES program, students are posted to a community for four (4) weeks with set objectives which are aligned with the overall objectives of UCCSMS. As the name implies, COBES has two main components: the Experience component and the Service component. The experience component requires that students live in the selected communities, research into health, socio-cultural and socio-economic problems and provide practical and cost-effective solutions and interventions that promote health and bring development to the communities. The service component requires that students provide tangible, short-term to medium-term services that bring about environmental sanitation, behavior change concerning health and education and improvements in gender, health, socio-economic and socio-cultural disparities. The first batch of students who undertook this programme started in 2008 at Okwampa, close to Bawjiase in the Awutu Bereku district of the Central Region.
The broad objectives of the programme are to:
- produce high calibre medical doctors, and other health professionals who have a broad based education, are people-centered, community-oriented and research conscious. Our students are trained to use their acquired medical knowledge to provide appropriate solutions for the existing medical problems within the community;
- train doctors to provide leadership and example in dealing with the ethical and moral problems confronting the community;
- be a conduit for establishing a centre of excellence in medical research into diseases commonly found in Ghanaian communities;
- create and maintain strong collaborative links with local and international organizations and institutions involved in community health and education through exchange programs and collaboration in multi center medical research and healthcare solutions.
Eligibility and Timing
The programme is organized for all pre-clinical and clinical students, except the levels 100 and 600 students. It is carried out in the second semester of each year beginning from February for the first group that leaves the university campus for the community to which they are assigned, and ends in May for the last class group to leave campus. Each eligible class takes turns to have up to a month of field experience.
Selection and Preparation of COBES Sites
Currently, eight approved rural sites located in various districts in the Central and Eastern Regions exist for students’ field practice
- Chemical Pathology
- Community Medicine
- Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics
- Internal Medicine & Therapeutics
- Medical Biochemistry
- Micro-B & Immunology
- Paediatrics & Child Health
- Psycho & Mental Medicine
- Medical Education & IT
- Medical Imaging
- Obstetrics & Gynaecology
- Anaesthesia & Pain Management
- Problem-Based Learning Unit
- Community-Based Experience & Service