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Democratic Republic of Congo

As violence and political instability continue to plague the DRC, rural mobile clinics remain a lifeline for suffering women who cannot travel to a hospital.

Why We Work in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Political upheaval and violent unrest have taken a heavy toll on DRC’s healthcare infrastructure. There is also a horrifying use of sexual violence in the country. For these reasons and others, DRC has been called “the worst place on earth to be a woman.”

Over half of the Congolese population lives in rural areas, where health resources are spread thin—and in high demand. Even simply getting to the hospital can be close to impossible, with dirt roads that are completely flooded and impassable for months on end.

All of these factors play a role in the DRC’s high incidence of obstetric fistula, and there is consistently more demand for fistula treatment than local hospitals can keep up with. As a result, there is a long backlog of Congolese women waiting for treatment.

What You Help Us Do

We are investing in the following areas to build DRC’s in-country medical services and provide life-transforming surgery to as many women as possible:

Meet Our Partners

We are currently partnering with Panzi Hospital, HEAL Africa, and Artemedis to deliver fistula treatment to women in the DRC.

What projects are we currently funding?

HEAL Africa

HEAL Africa provides free services, including fistula repairs, to many women in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are living without access to even basic healthcare. HEAL’s main facility, located in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, is recognized as the best hospital in the region.

Dedicated mobile medical surgical teams are dispatched to community medical centers to provide care to women who have virtually no other hope of ever finding fistula treatment. These mobile surgical teams also help train local doctors and nurses in the signs and symptoms of fistula, so that they can refer more patients to HEAL Africa for surgery.

Panzi Hospital

Dr. Denis Mukwege founded Panzi Hospital in 1999, in an effort to confront insufficient medical care and overwhelming injuries faced by women in DRC. Located in Bukavu in eastern DRC, the 400-bed hospital quickly became renowned for its services to internally displaced persons and survivors of sexual violence, gaining international recognition for its heroic work.

Widely known as one of the best fistula surgeons in the world, Dr. Mukwege was one of our first partners in 2009 when Fistula Foundation adopted a global mission. Through this long-standing partnership, Panzi Hospital has developed a robust fistula treatment program, helping more women get treated who otherwise would go without.

In 2018, Dr. Denis Mukwege was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. He has risked his life continually to serve thousands of women who have suffered grievously. We are honored to support Dr. Mukwege’s incredible work.

Artemedis

Artemedis, formerly WAHA, is one of Fistula Foundation’s longest-standing partners. When we expanded our mission into multiple countries in 2009, they were one of our first international grantees.

Artemedis has been listening closely to the needs of fistula patients in Central Africa. In 2014, they began a fistula treatment program in Burundi, but soon learned that the majority of their patients were refugees from the neighboring DRC. In response, Artemedis shifted their operation across the border to DRC, and have continued their diligent work to reduce the large backlog of Central African women waiting for treatment.

How much funding have we granted?

HEAL Africa

  • $229,680 in FY2019
  • $100,000 in FY2018
  • $456,800 in FY2017
  • $280,237 in FY2016
  • $82,400 in FY2015
  • $7,268 in FY2015
  • $49,990 in FY2014
  • $50,000 in FY2013
  • $20,000 in FY2012
  • $100,000 in FY2011

Panzi Hospital

  • $275,000 in FY2019
  • $250,000 in FY2018
  • $316,000 in FY2017
  • $316,200 in FY2016
  • $300,000 in FY2015
  • $150,000 in FY2014
  • $631,061 in FY2013
  • $226,856 in FY2011
  • $204,100 in FY2010
  • $200,000 in FY2009

Artemedis (formerly WAHA) DRC

  • $305,000 in FY2019
  • $271,000 in FY2018
  • $237,000 in FY2017
  • $107,875 in FY2016

News from the Field

“The Worst Place on Earth to be a Woman”  •  March 01, 2019
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Violence and political instability continue to plague the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), effectively crippling its limited maternal healthcare infrastructure and abandoning women who are suffering with fistula. These grinding...
Violence and political instability continue to plague the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), effectively crippling its limited maternal healthcare infrastructure and abandoning women who are suffering with fistula. These grinding conditions prompted author and humanitarian Lisa Shannon to call it “the worst place on earth to be a woman.”
2018 Nobel Prize Winners Risk to Make the World Better for Victims of Sexual Violence  •  December 06, 2018
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Dr. Denis Mukwege, partner of Fistula Foundation, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. CEO Kate Grant, a longtime friend and colleague of Dr. Denis Mukwege, paid tribute to the...
Dr. Denis Mukwege, partner of Fistula Foundation, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. CEO Kate Grant, a longtime friend and colleague of Dr. Denis Mukwege, paid tribute to the extraordinary physician in an email to Good News Network. View the full article below. 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Winners Risk Their Lives to Make the World Better for Victims of Sexual Violence The Nobel Committee has awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war amidst armed conflict. The laureates have "made a crucial contribution to focusing attention" on the problem by not only combatting the crime, but, healing the victims. Nadia Murad is herself a victim of war crimes.
Mayeye from the Democratic Republic of Congo  •  August 04, 2017
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In the year 2000, Mayeye was pregnant with her fourth child. Not long after giving birth, she felt intense pain in her abdomen and began leaking urine. She had developed...
In the year 2000, Mayeye was pregnant with her fourth child. Not long after giving birth, she felt intense pain in her abdomen and began leaking urine. She had developed obstetric fistula. Despite her injury, Mayeye continued working on her family’s small farm. She had no choice but to work through the pain, because her family was depending on her.

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