Check out our latest data on the women and girls we've served - and don't miss our FAQ for more details.

FAQ

Who does Panzi Hospital treat?

Panzi Hospital is the General Reference Hospital for the Ibanda Health Zone of Bukavu, South Kivu, serving more than 400,000 people in the area. In addition, our rural outreach centers, One Stop Centers, mobile clinics and other outreach programs reach thousands more each year.

Panzi Hospital has earned a world-renowned reputation for its best-in-class services treating survivors of sexualized violence and complex gynecological injuries. Each woman or girl works with our doctors and clinicians to create a tailor-made healing pathway, including both physical and psychological treatment options.

Does Panzi only treat rape survivors?

No. Any injury to a woman’s reproductive organs, no matter how it was sustained, can be traumatizing to her health and identity. We believe that all women and girls deserve access to healing services, and accept women into our healing programs based on their need for treatment for complex gynecological injuries, not based on how those injuries were sustained.

Do all rape survivors need surgery?

No. Each woman or girl works with our team of social assistants, psychologists, and physicians to determine her individualized healing path. We check in with her to see if she needs further interventions, or perhaps a course correction, based on her physical and psychological health.

What are the most common complex gynecological injuries, and how does Panzi respond?

The most common complex injuries treated at Panzi include:

  • Traumatic and obstetric fistula: Fistula, a tear in the vaginal wall a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder, is a devastating and stigmatizing injury that often leaves a woman incontinent of urine, or feces, or both. While traumatic fistula can result from rape, the vast majority of fistula is caused by prolonged or obstructed labor. Both traumatic and obstetric fistula, however, leave a woman not only deeply injured and traumatized, but often stigmatized by her community.

Supported by Fistula Foundation, Engender Health, and PMU, Panzi’s Fistula Project works to repair fistula and train medical staff. Doctors are trained in fistula repair surgery techniques, and nurses are trained in pre-operative, operative, and post-operative care. In addition, midwives are trained to prevent fistula during labor.

Outreach into the community is a critical aspect of our work to treat and prevent obstetric fistula. Our staff works with rural women in their villages, provide treatment, raise awareness of the injury and offer resources. The team performs simple fistula surgery in the field while more severe, complex fistula cases are referred to the Panzi Hospital. The costs of transport, treatment and care of referred cases are covered by the project. Reparations have been performed at Lemera, Luvungi, and Nundu (in South Kivu), Kindu (in Maniema province), and Kalemie, Kongolo (in North Katanga province).

  • Prolapse: Prolapse of a pelvic organ, such as the uterus, bladder, or top of the vagina means that it begins to drop or sink because the muscles and connective tissue of the abdomen can no longer support it. Pelvic organ prolapse can be caused by childbirth or traumatic injury. In extreme cases, damage to the lower abdomen might require vaginal reconstruction, surgeries offered at Panzi Hospital.

 

What next after surgery?

40-60% of the women who seek treatment at Panzi Hospital are unable to return to their home communities either because of the extent of their injuries, ongoing violence, or, most often, deep stigma surrounding sexual violence and fistula. These women are able to continue their healing journey, alongside vulnerable women from the surrounding communities, at our innovative Maison Dorcas aftercare center.

For those women able to return home, our staff follows up to ensure positive reintegration into their families and communities through home visits. This also serves as an opportunity to educate family members on how to help a woman or girl maintain her treatment at home, including any restrictions on physical movement or sexual activity. We also work to educate local communities about ongoing health concerns through educational outreach programs on a preventative basis.