The University of Cape Coast (UCC) was established in 1962 “to serve the needs of the whole country and Africa by drawing its students from a cross-section of the country as well as foreign nations”. Among its terms of reference, the University was mandated to play a unique role in national development by identifying national needs and addressing them. Since its inception, the University has fostered and continues to foster other tertiary institutions to grow and attain autonomy. While remaining loyal to its original assignment of training quality graduate teachers, UCC has successfully diversified its programmes. Forty-five years of commitment to its core values of excellence and service as well as a vision. University that is strongly positioned with a worldwide acclaim has turned the University of Cape Coast into the University of Choice in Ghana and the West African sub-region. Indeed, UCC has succeeded in establishing itself as a centre of excellence where quality teaching, research and outreach programmes are consistently undertaken. In line with its tradition of responding to national needs, and backed by her solid academic institutions and infrastructure, UCC is seeking to address the problem of the current shortfall of health professionals, especially doctors, in the country by establishing a School of Medical Sciences (UCCSMS). The aim is to produce doctors and allied health professionals to supplement the efforts of the three existing Medical Schools in the country. By embarking on the School of Medical Sciences project, UCC has signalled its preparedness to contribute, in a pragmatic way, to the achievement of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
In line with the overall vision of the University, the vision of UCCSMS is “To be a Medical School that is strongly positioned with a world-wide acclaim”. We envision an approach to medical education that would transform the learning environment and challenge students to think analytically. This vision is in the context of the unique institutional history of UCC in education, and takes cognizance of the need to respond to ongoing world wide reforms in medical education.
UCCSMS will be a leader in promoting the health of the people of Ghana. We will: 1. provide medical education of the highest standards by adopting and using medical curriculum that is internationally acceptable and yet has the flexibility of incorporating the medical problems prevalent in Ghana and Africa. 2. produce high calibre medical doctors and other health professionals who will have a broad based education, be people-centered, community-oriented and research conscious. Our students will be trained to use their acquired medical knowledge to provide appropriate solutions for the existing medical problems within the community. 3. train doctors who are sensitive to the ever-increasing challenges of the changing society, and who are motivated to maintain excellence in humane and ethical medical practice, research and continuing education. 4. train our graduates to provide leadership by example in dealing with the ethical and moral problems which continually confront the Ghanaian community. 5. make available and maintain the most advanced medical and laboratory technology services and knowledge, which will be available for the use of the medical students, their educators and the general population. 6. develop excellent tertiary and highly specialized clinical services 7. establish a telemedicine conferencing facility to support patient care. 8. establish a centre of excellence in medical research into diseases peculiar to African and developing countries, and selected medical ailments with global impact.
Candidates to be admitted into the programme will have to satisfy the basic general requirements of the University for admission into its undergraduate programmes. Specifically, candidates must have good passes in all core subjects (i.e., English, Mathematics Integrated Science and Social Studies). They must also have obtained good aggregates in any three of the elective subjects namely Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. Offer of admission will also be subject to the candidate’s performance at an interview.
Driven by a greater awareness of the health needs of the population, UCCSMS seeks to provide a unique and innovative curriculum that will produce graduates who are competent, compassionate and committed to the medical profession. The integrated and stimulating curriculum will emphasise:
The curriculum is designed in such a way that students’ learning will centre on clinical and community experiences early in the curriculum in order to relate the science to the care of patients. The major part of the students learning activity will take place within the community where students and staff will identify health problems and concerns. The objective of our community-based approach is to identify the common causes of morbidity and mortality in the rural communities (of the Central Region and Ghana as a whole) and determine the effect of social, cultural, environmental and other factors on the health of the population especially, the vulnerable members of these communities. To this end, we will train medical students to understand that the health of communities and of individuals within communities is intricately related to education, social cultural and environmental factors. Our students will also be trained to use the epidemiological and morbidity data collected to provide solutions and communicate these to the communities in order to promote health and prevent disease and improve the quality of life of the communities. The philosophy behind this innovation is that doctors trained this way will have a better understanding of the social, cultural, environmental and other factors that impact the health of their patients. They will also develop empathy for these communities and hopefully go back to the communities to serve after they graduate.
It is hoped that the establishment of UCCSMS will impact positively on Medical Education in the country. It will become the nucleus for the training of medical and allied health professionals. UCCSMS will establish a Centre for Continuing Medical Education which will result in improvement in expert and skilled medical care. Programmes of the School will promote research that is aimed at finding solutions to issues of local as well as global health concern through innovative data base of medical knowledge and information. Ultimately, UCCSMS will train experts in medicine and allied health professions and thereby, help in upgrading the staffing and expertise in the district and rural health facilities that will become part of the training infrastructure. By establishing a telemedicine conferencing facility, UCCSMS will forge links and promote collaboration with experts internationally. The establishment of UCCSMS will also bring about positive transformation in the health care delivery system in the country by equipping the clinical facilities to international standards with state-of-the art equipment that will attract both local and international experts and clients. The aim is to provide expert tertiary care in all areas of medicine. These will be open to both local and international clients. The School will also to provide expert laboratory and technical support for hospitals and other health establishments and therefore bring about quality service delivery and generation of income. We will further create job opportunities for skilled and unskilled labour thereby helping to promote government’s agenda of providing jobs for the teeming Ghanaian youth. UCCSMS will help to promote growth in health and social sectors through strong links with industry and the community.
The Central Regional Hospital is in close proximity to UCC and therefore will serve as the Teaching Hospital. This state-of-the -art Hospital is a 236-bed capacity hospital with a 4-bed Intensive Care Unit and 6 renal dialysis tables in the Dialysis Unit. We plan to increase the bed capacity and the existing clinical services and departments to accommodate the rigorous discipline and excellence we seek to establish in a modern Teaching Hospital. Other facilities that UCCSMS will bring on board include the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital and Ankaful Leprosy/General Hospital which have served the University of Ghana Medical School in the past in the area of teaching. Cape Coast, as a famous tourist destination, could be an added attraction for Medical Specialists and Consultants. With the degree of medical excellence envisaged, we anticipate that the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital will become a centre for medical tourism. UCC has a well established Faculty of Science with well equipped laboratories in the Departments of Human Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, Laboratory Technology, Optometry, and Nursing. These will support and strengthen the scientific and research programmes of the School of Medical Sciences.
In line with the vision of UCCSMS, steps have been taken towards developing the institutional capacity of the School by forging links with renowned institutions. We have established an understanding with the College of Health and Human Services at Ohio University in Athens (Ohio, USA) which provides for the creation of collaborative research and exchange opportunities for faculty and students. Mediworld, an International Healthcare Consultancy Group with branches in India and USA, have teamed up with UCCSMS to help with institutional capacity building and teaching. Morehead State University (Kentucky, USA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UCCSMS to collaborate and exchange faculty and staff for consulting research, lectures and other academic pursuits. Currently, discussions are ongoing with the Grand Valley State University (Michigan, USA) Centre for Health Sciences for similar collaborative networking. Local Partnerships In working towards the establishment of UCCSMS, the University has been very fortunate to have received substantial support from certain corporate organisations and from private individuals. In this connection, we are greatly indebted to Maersk Ghana Limited, Barclays Bank Ghana Limited and Hon. Kennedy Agyepong, MP for Assin North for their generous support.