Dr. Denis Mukwege, 2014 Sakharov Prize Laureate, founded Panzi Hospital in 1999 as a response to the devastating war that surrounded his community in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The hospital now serves a population of 400,000 as the General Reference Hospital for the Ibanda Health Zone in DRC, with a full range of health services.
As a direct outcome of the war, maternal mortality was on the rise. The safety of all women and girls were being impacted by brutal forces that ravaged their bodies in unimaginable ways. Dr. Mukwege’s first patient was a survivor of rape, whose reproductive organs had been brutally destroyed. As violence against women and girls escalated dramatically in the context of Congo’s wars, Dr. Mukwege and the staff of Panzi Hospital dedicated significant resources to treating women with fistula and other complex gynecological injuries – both traumatic and obstetric.
Panzi Hospital has earned a world-renowned reputation for its best-in-class service treating survivors of sexual violence and complex gynecological injuries. Its impact on the lives of women and girls, and on the broader communities in which they live, runs much deeper. Our holistic model of care provides patients with services that meet the full spectrum of their needs: physical recovery, psychosocial and emotional support, community reintegration and legal assistance.
In addition, we are making strategic investments in local, Congolese civil society organizations, building their capacity to address the root causes of violence and rebuild Congolese communities on principles of human rights and gender equality.
To support Panzi Hospital’s holistic model of care, Dr. Mukwege formed two Foundations: Panzi Foundation DRC and Panzi Foundation USA. While separate legal entities, the two Foundations and the Hospital operate in lock-step to fund and implement critical programs serving survivors of sexual violence and the broader community surrounding Panzi. Panzi Foundation USA raises awareness about the challenges in eastern Democratic Republic ofCongo, engages in strategic advocacy to address the root causes of violence, and makes key investments at Panzi Hospital to heal women and restore lives.