At outset, the most prominent achievement of COBERS is a re-orientation of curricula to the population health needs. Students participate in community placements in interdisciplinary teams of five to eight students. COBERS guidelines have been developed for both students and staff.
Students are placed at a rural health facility where they participate in facility-based health care and also undertake a community project with the neighboring community. The number of sites continues to increase: from three sites during 1995 to 23 rural sites during 2010 and 30 sites in 2012. There are 50 different sites where students could be placed in future. A checklist was used to mark out basic essential items required at a site to qualify it to have students placed at that particular site. The sites have been ranked using a criteria developed by MEPI – MESAU. The number of participating students has increased as well from 40 students in 1995 to currently 230 students annually. Every year students implemented a community project that ensures participation of the community for ownership and sustainability.
The participating lecturers have also increased progressively to 33. At every site there is a trained preceptor who participates in supervision, teaching and assessment. In some of the sites two supervisors have been trained. It can be argued that participating lecturers provide a level of technical advice and support to the participating health facilities.
Whereas students have contributed to healthcare improvement, they have also carried out small research projects that have further informed program implementation. Some of the projects have been widely disseminated at the MUST annual research dissemination conference and on grand rounds. Two of such projects featured at the 15th February, 2013 MEPI teleconference.