"If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives." ― Robert South
The Democratic Republic of Congo, noted as the heart of Africa, is situated where the deepest river of the world resides. DRC holds one of the fundamental infrastructures of Africa due to the “Congo Grand Inga Dam project” - the utilisation of the Congo River to potentially light up the entire African Continent. Moreover, the nation has been noted for being a rich reserve of gold, diamonds and cobalt. The land houses The Congo Basin Rainforest which has been noted for bearing the Earth’s lungs as a result of being home to 10,000 species of plants. As a result of such a wealth of resources, the manifestation of human greed has blocked effective democratic progress and facilitated an unjustifiable war for decades. One of the many strategies of war which has been employed has been the use of sexual violence; this has left dire health and psychological consequences upon remote areas within the population. As a result, DRC has set out international community and non-governmental organisations to resolve this - such as the world renowned works of Dr. Denis Mukwege.
Dr Denis Mukwege was inspired to pursue the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology upon trying to tackle the issue of maternal mortality. However the continuous increase of sexually abused cases in which he was treating shifted his focus to treat survivors of rape with gynecological complications. Mukwege is the founder of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu (est. 1999), where he specializes in the surgical and medical treatment of women who have been sexually abused.
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. - World Health Organization (WHO).
Mukwege recognised that the surgical treatment of cases is not enough to remove the mental and social dysfunction which could still impede upon the ones health. He has reported in an interview that “we have seen people who have stopped living” and was moved to ensure that his patients obtain the full measure of health. Therefore, the basis of his clinic is comprised of four pillars. The first is a medical pillar which ensues treating the gynecological infections and surgery. The second is a psychological pillar which involves providing psychological support in order to rebuild the patient’s mind. The third is a socioeconomic pillar which ensures that his patients are able to mobilise back into society in a sound manner. Finally the fourth is a legal pillar which involves setting out legalistic plans to treat the root causes of rape in order to prevent its incidence.
“Peace is costly but it is worth the expense” - African Proverb.
Panzi Hospital has had great partnership with Communauté des Eglises de Pentecôte en Afrique Centrale (CEPAC), Swedish and British development funds, PMU and Läkarmissionen and many over donors to continuously strengthen its infrastructure. Nevertheless a number of challenges are still faced such as bed shortages, insufficient water and electricity supply, and unstable security measures.
We can change hate by love - Robert Mukwege.
Mukwege was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Nadia Murad. They have been honoured for their efforts to come against sexual violence. He is also himself a minister in a pentecostal church in Bukavu.
Written by Jade Okene