October 7, 2013 —Dr. Mukwege is the founder of the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In this lecture he shared stories of suffering and strength to awaken us to the plight of hundreds of thousands of survivors still threatened by mass atrocities and violence in his country.
This lecture was co-sponsored by the USC Gould School of Law, USC School of Social Work and USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences.
Founder & Medical Director
Denis Mukwege Mukengere is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
As a young child, Dr. Mukwege accompanied his father, a Pentecostal pastor, while visiting sick members of the community. This later inspired him to become a doctor. After receiving his baccalaureate he studied medicine in Burundi where after having finished he went to work in the Christian Hospital of Lemera, in South-Kivu DR Congo.
Specializing in Podiatry he was shocked by the realization that women were being brought to the hospital from the rural areas on the back of mules, after having hemorrhaged during childbirth at home. Others were quite simply coming to the hospital to die after enduring long and laborious childbirth without success, and the surviving ones would leave with serious genital legions. At this point Dr. Mukwege changed his direction to gynecology and went to study at the CHU in Angers, France.
In 1989 Dr. Mukwege settled at the Hospital of Lemera to be close to the women he had encountered and there he trained a staff in gynecology and obstetrics. Tragedy struck when the hospital was destroyed during the first war of Congo in 1996. Dr. Mukwege survived Lemera and then moved to Bukavu where he witnessed the suffering of the people in the Southern part of Bukavu. There was no medical structure to help women during childbirth. This gave Dr. Mukwege the inspiration to create a special maternity ward with an operating room at the Panzi Hospital. The hospital has become known worldwide for the treatment of survivors of sexual violence and women with severe gynecological problems.
Dr. Denis Mukwege has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades and in 2009 was named African of the Year. Dr Mukwege is a tireless advocate for the rights of women in DRC. He has addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the matter and regularly travels abroad raising awareness of the situation in Eastern DRC. In between responsibilities managing and administering Panzi Hospital and overseeing projects at the Panzi Foundation, Dr Mukwege continues to see patients and perform surgery two days a week.