Dr. Denis Mukwege nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder of the Panzi Hospital Foundation in eastern DRC, was nominated for the Nobel Prize for his tireless efforts to stem the tide of rape and abuse that has shattered teh lives of an estimated 500,000 women.
Dr. Denis Mukwege serves on the front lines of war in which sexual violence is an insidious, pervasive weapon. This month, the 58-year-old gynecologist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo – and IMA World Health partner – was nominated for a Nobel Prize for his tireless efforts to stem the abhorrent tide of rape and abuse that has shattered the lives of an estimated 500,000 women or more.
The award was ultimately given to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, but being nominated turns the international spotlight on the impact Dr. Mukwege is having in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 1998, Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital Foundation amid a war between Congo and neighboring Rwanda that eventually engulfed a half-dozen other African countries. The hospital offered obstetric care and treatment for the severe gynecological problems casualties of the conflict commonly suffer.
“I constantly with my own eyes see the elder women, the young girls, the mothers and even the babies dishonored,” Mukwege told the UN General Assembly last year. “Many are subjected to sexual slavery; others are used as a weapon of war. Their organs are exposed to the most abhorrent ill-treatment.”
Mukwege’s Panzi Hospital partners with IMA World Health’s USHINDI Program, a five-year USAID-funded program designed to provide a holistic approach integrating medical, legal, psychosocial, and economic support services to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Eastern Congo. IMA collaborates with the Ministry of Health and several national/international NGOs, community organizations and women’s groups to provide quality care and treatment, raise awareness and improve the rights and protection of women.
USHINDI provides access to doctors, legal aid, psychosocial services, and economic support in the form of literacy and job skills training and microloans. It also works to bring rapists and violent offenders to justice. To date, the program has helped provide medical treatment for more than
10,631 SGBV survivors and counseling for more than 17,008 SGBV survivors, as well as empowering 17,366 women with literacy training and socio-economic reintegration.
“Mukwege does a fantastic job in a conflict that has cost more than 5 million lives, putting his own life at risk,” said Asle Sveen, a historian and author of three books on the peace prize, told Bloomberg News.
“It’s an honor and pleasure working alongside Dr. Mukwege in the DRC,” commented IMA World Health CEO Rick Santos. “My hope is that his well-deserved nomination for the Nobel Prize will bring even more international attention and support for those, particularly women, who continue to suffer from brutality in Eastern Congo.”
The prize, along with literature, physics, medicine and chemistry honors, was created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel and first awarded in 1901. Laureates include last year’s winner, the European Union, as well as U.S. President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa. The Norwegian Nobel Committee selects the peace prize, while the rest are handed out in Stockholm. The economics prize was instituted by the Swedish central bank in honor of Nobel.
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