The eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been plagued by conflict for more than two decades. Rape has become a weapon for the warring factions, despite the presence of the world’s largest UN peacekeeping mission. Moved by the plight of the victims of gender-based violence, Denis Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu in 1999. The hospital specializes in treating gynecological disorders, specifically those caused by reproductive trauma and trauma from sexual violence, as well as delivering holistic clinical treatment for survivors. Mukwege and his surgical team have become internationally recognized experts in fistula and incontinence repair, in addition to the long-term healing and community reintegration associated with fistula care. The hospital also houses several projects supporting specific needs in South Kivu, including nutrition for malnourished children and HIV/AIDS treatment programs.
To support the ongoing work of the hospital, as well as new outreach to rural clinics and communities, the Panzi Foundation was established in 2008, with a view to improving access to maternal and reproductive health services, promoting the respect of women’s rights and gender equality, and preventing violence against women and children. Most recently, the USHINDI Project has been implemented to support survivors of violence and children born of rape.
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