Denis Mukwege: Celebrating Black Excellence In Medicine And Activism

by Duke Magazine

Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned Congolese gynecologist, human rights activist and Nobel Peace laureate. He is the founder of Panzi Hospital, Bukavu, from where has rose to become the world’s leading specialist in the treatment of wartime sexual violence and a global campaigner against the use of rape as a weapon of war.

Born in 1955, Mukwege’s sojourn into the world of medicine was fomented from seeing the complications that women in Congo experienced during childbirth with poor access to specialist healthcare, and his willingness to bring healing to the sick. With almost four decades of adroit in medicine, his Panti Hospital has treated more than 82,000 patients with complex gynecological damage and trauma, with sixty per cent of the injuries resulting from instances of sexual violence being used as a weapon of war, with most of the patients of the time coming from conflict zones. Avidly passionate about the sanctity of women’s health, Mukwege devoted himself to reconstructive surgery to help female victims of sexual violence, with great support from the German Institute for Medical Mission (DIFAEM) in terms of funds and medicines.

In corroboration of his medical prowess, Mukwege founded the non-profit Panzi Foundation in 2008 as an avenue to support the work of Panzi Hospital with legal assistance, psycho-social support and socio-economic programs. Also, the Mukwege Foundation was created in 2016 to promote the aims of the Panzi Hospital and Foundations worldwide, thereby advocating for an end to wartime sexual violence everywhere. To this laudable cause of his, he and Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for their remarkable “efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” Highly revered as “likely the world’s leading expert on repairing injuries of rape” by The Globe and Mail, he was in 2013, awarded the Right Livelihood Award for “his courageous work healing women survivors of war-time sexual violence and speaking up about its root causes.”

Being a man of great repute and honor working assiduously to make the world a better place for all, he is richly decorated ‘noble’ as a medical doctor, philanthropist, and human rights activist. The 66-year-old Pentecostal pastor is a recipient of many awards and recognitions with an overflowing resume. Some of them are; Human Rights First Award (2013); Gulbenkian Prize (2015); Four Freedoms Award Laureate for the Freedom From Want, by the Roosevelt Institute in New York and Franklin D. Roosevelt Stichting (2016); Seoul Peace Prize (2016); Prix Héros pour l’Afrique (Hero for Africa) (2016); UN Human Rights Prize (2008), amongst others. Also, he sits as a board member of many international bodies, like World Health Organization (WHO), Member of the Science Council and Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL), Member of the Global Advisory Board.

Mukwege is also an honorarium of degrees conferred on him from various higher institutions across the globe: Harvard University, University of Edinburgh, University of Angers, etc.

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