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Assessing community perspectives of the community based education and service model at Makerere University, Uganda: a qualitative evaluation

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Author(s): Mbalinda Scovia | Plover Colin | Burnham Gilbert | Kaye Dan | Mwanika Andrew | Oria Hussein | Okullo Isaac | Muhwezi Wilson | Groves Sara

Journal: BMC International Health and Human Rights
ISSN 1472-698X

Volume: 11;
Issue: Suppl 1;
Start page: S6;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Community partnerships are defined as groups working together with shared goals, responsibilities, and power to improve the community. There is growing evidence that these partnerships contribute to the success and sustainability of community-based education and service programs (COBES), facilitating change in community actions and attitudes. Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) is forging itself as a transformational institution in Uganda and the region. The College is motivated to improve the health of Ugandans through innovative responsive teaching, provision of service, and community partnerships. Evaluating the COBES program from the community perspective can assist the College in refining an innovative and useful model that has potential to improve the health of Ugandans. Methods A stratified random sample of 11 COBES sites was selected to examine the community’s perception of the program. Key Informant Interviews of 11 site tutors and 33 community members were completed. The data was manually analyzed and themes developed. Results Communities stated the students consistently engaged with them with culturally appropriate behaviour. They rated the student’s communication as very good even though translators were frequently needed. Half the community stated they received some feedback from the students, but some communities interpreted any contact after the initial visit as feedback. Communities confirmed and appreciated that the students provided a number of interventions and saw positive changes in health and health seeking behaviours. The community reflected that some programs were more sustainable than others; the projects that needed money to implement were least sustainable. The major challenges from the community included community fatigue, and poor motivation of community leaders to continue to take students without compensation. Conclusions Communities hosting Makerere students valued the students’ interventions and the COBES model. They reported witnessing health benefits of fewer cases of disease, increased health seeking behavior and sustainable healthcare programs. The evidence suggests that efforts to standardize objectives, implement structural adjustments, and invest in development of the program would yield even more productive community interactions and a healthcare workforce with public health skills needed to work in rural communities.
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