By: Denis Mukwege, MD, Panzi Hospital, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nobel Peace Prize winner 2018; Raha Maroy, MD, Panzi Hospital, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo | Posted on: 10 Nov 2023

Panzi Hospital was founded in 1999, in a region devastated by armed conflicts and wars. The main goal for founding the hospital was to safeguard women’s lives and ensure proper delivery of babies. Unfortunately, our very first patient came with extreme wounds from sexual violence. She was shot in her genitals after enduring a brutal rape.

The flow of patient-survivors of sexual violence kept growing since then.

We had to adapt and develop techniques to deal with and treat those new types of wounds. To this date, we have performed over 80,000 surgeries of different categories, to repair genital damages done to women. We had to develop special techniques for fistula treatment, prolapses, and the care for rape victims under the age of 5.

We now train doctors from other regions within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or other countries in the treatments we have developed and specialized in at Panzi. We have sent teams to treat patients and train local doctors in Guinea, the Central African Republic, and Ukraine, among others. In 2022, we inaugurated the African Minimally Invasive Surgery Institute facility within the Panzi Hospital to further our improvement in surgery performance.

In the meantime, we continue our work as a regular hospital, treating different types of patients and illnesses. With a maternity ward that averages 3500 deliveries per year, our initial goal to strive for reducing maternal death has brought encouraging results. We currently have a 99.1% live birth rate and strongly work to continue to increase it.

Guest Editor’s Note

Joseph A. Smith Jr, MD
Director of Global Surgery
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Dr Mukwege, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner, understates his own accomplishments and his lifelong commitment to humanitarian work. His efforts have come with substantial risk to his own safety, but he has been undeterred in ministering to the women who are victims of the ongoing violence in the eastern regions of the DRC.1,2 The remarkable contribution of Panzi Hospital to the health and well-being of women in the DRC is facilitated by the support and dedication of the team he has put together.3 I have had the opportunity to work with Dr Mukwege and his colleagues on several occasions at Panzi Hospital and can attest to not only their skills but also their compassion and commitment. Their efforts present an example for readers of AUANews to learn what can be achieved with selfless dedication to humanitarian causes.

  1. Mukwege DM, Mohamed-Ahmed O, Fitchett JR. Rape as a strategy of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Int Health. 2010;2(3):163-164.
  2. Mukwege DM, Nangini C. Rape with extreme sexual violence: the new pathology in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. PLoS Med. 2009;6(12):e1000204.
  3. Mukwege D. The Power of Women. Flatiron Books; 2021.