Panzi hospital is a general first referral hospital. The hospital employs 370 skilled and dedicated doctors, nurses, and support staff and is equipped with modern medical equipment. There are 250 beds dedicated specifically to survivors of sexual violence and women in need of complex gynaecological care.
Each rape survivor at Panzi hospital is accompanied by a social assistant who works to create a tailor made healing pathway including physical and initial psychological care, legal aid, and at a later stage, socio-economic support.
The Fistula Project
Fistula is a painful condition that causes an abnormal opening between a woman’s vagina and rectum or bladder. Women with fistula suffer from incontinence and are unable to control the constant flow of urine and/or faeces that leak from the tear. It is often caused by prolonged, unobstructed labour; in poor conditions where there is lack of medical assistance, labour often lasts for a few days before the woman can get help. Fistula is also caused by violent rape, mass rape, forced insertion of objects and other forms of violent behaviour.
A woman with fistula is often shunned by her family and stigmatized by society. Doctors and staff at Panzi are trained in fistula repair and welcome both victims of obstetric fistula and fistula caused by traumatic rape. Furthermore, Panzi aims to create awareness about fistula through its outreach missions in different villages – staff meet women in their villages to treat them, raise awareness about fistula and to inform them of where and how to get treatment. The outreach team collaborates with local partners including NGO’s, churches and health institutions. The team performs simple fistula surgery in the field while more severe, complex fistula cases are referred to Panzi Hospital. The costs of transport, treatment and care of referred cases are covered by the project.
HIV / AIDS Project
Often survivors of sexual violence are in need of treatment and support for HIV/AIDS. The HIV/AIDS initiative was established in 2007 at Panzi Hospital. The services offered by the program include paediatrics, maternity services, nutrition of inpatients, anti-retroviral treatment, a Volunteer Test Centre (VCT), laboratory and a secure blood transfusion centre. The project also includes social activities such as providing micro-credit loans, school equipment and fees for students. Panzi Hospital staff are also able to perform counselling and HIV testing in villages outside Bukavu.
Panzi Hospital and Panzi Foundation, including the Fistula Project and HIV/AIDS project, are funded by the World Bank, PMU, ECHO, Stichting Vluchteling, Engender Health, Fistula Foundation, the European Union, Ford Foundation, Norwegian Church Aid and the Steven Lewis Foundation.