The Hospital was founded by Dr. Denis Mukwege in 1999. Dr. Mukwege had witnessed the alarming increase in rape and sexual violence that was at levels unparalleled to anything the Congo had ever seen before. This drove his motivation to start a health care centre devoted to providing holistic and comprehesive healthcare to women.
Since its doors opened, the 400-bed hospital has helped more than 30, 000 survivors. Dr. Mukwege and his team are internationally recognized for their repair of incontinence and obstetric fistulas – two complications that are increasingly common for rape survivors. For more serious cases, Panzi will provide transport, surgery and post-operation care free of charge.
The Hospital has a mobile outreach program, travelling to villages to address sensitive reproductive injuries due to rape, hearing from women’s whose voices and concerns would otherwise go unheeded.
Beyond providing basic medical care, the Panzi Hospital provides long-term support for survivors. The Dorcas House is one of their many projects which provides housing, livelihood support, training and counseling to women who face long-term medical and social difficulties stemming from their rape. Ultimately, the Panzi Hospital aims to provide a safe space for these women knowing that due to stigma, conflict and family rejection, as well as the need for ongoing medical care, 40-60% of women treated at the hospital will have to stay in or near Bukavu. The Hospital works with local women’s organizations to ensure the support and integration of survivors of sexual violence.
Dr. Mukwege’s commitment to ending sexual violence has come at an incredible cost. In October 2012, armed men held him and his family at gun point in his house, killing his security guard. Following a brief time of exile in Europe, Dr. Mukwege returned in January 2013, with an unshakeble will to continue his work helping women rape survivors.
The Panzi Hospital remains an integral community actor in amplifying the voices of women rape survivors and providing them dignified and essential care.