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Democratic Republic of Congo

Why Do We Work in Democratic Republic of Congo?

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been referred to as “the worst place in the world to be a woman.” The reasons for this chilling reputation are many: Although the country is rich in natural resources, decades of instability and violence have left the majority of the population in poverty; the fertility rate is among the highest in the world as are its maternal and infant mortality rates; access to quality healthcare is often limited, particularly in rural areas; and most troubling, the unprecedented use of sexual violence throughout the country. All of these issues have a particularly devastating impact on women and are correlated to the many cases of fistula found in DRC.

What You Help Us Do in DRC

We’re helping fund:

  • Fistula surgeries
  • Community outreach
  • Surgeon training
  • Reintegration support


Panzi Hospital, Bukavu
HEAL Africa, Goma
Kirungu Hospital
Beniker Hospital

How much funding have we granted?


$271,000 in FY2018
$237,000 in FY2017
$107,875 in FY2016

HEAL Africa

$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

$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

Who is our partner?

We provide grant support directly to these organizations.

How will this help women in DRC?

Determined to confront the overwhelming injuries of his home country’s population, Dr. Denis Mukwege founded Panzi Hospital in Bukavu in 1999. Dr. Mukwege was inspired to pursue a medical specialization in gynecology and obstetrics after witnessing the insufficient medical care that women in his country were receiving, and his decision to found Panzi Hospital is a further testament to his commitment to the women of DRC. The 400-bed hospital is renowned for its services to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and survivors of sexual violence, including a large project aimed specifically at fistula. Since the hospital’s inception in 1999, over 4,400 women suffering from fistula have received free surgery and medical care. Since Fistula Foundation began funding the hospital’s fistula program in 2009, at least ten additional doctors have been trained in complex surgery procedures and nurses and anesthesiologists on staff have been trained in fistula care. Transportation, meals, lodging and reintegration support are provided to patients, and community outreach is conducted regularly in order to identify new patients and raise awareness of fistula in communities.

HEAL Africa has been performing fistula repairs since 2003. Their main facility is in the large town of Goma in eastern DRC, but much of their recent work has focused on surrounding rural areas in the region. This includes sending outreach teams into rural areas to raise awareness, identify new patients in need of treatment, and facilitate their transport to Goma. In some cases, mobile surgical teams are dispatched to community medical centers in an effort to make care more accessible to rural populations. These mobile surgical teams also train local surgeons in safe delivery procedures, Caesarean sections, and emergency obstetric care. In addition to providing free fistula surgeries and pre- and postoperative care, HEAL Africa teaches women how to sew, read, write, and weave through HEALing Arts, a skill-building program for women who are awaiting or recovering from fistula surgery.

Our partner Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA) recently shifted their treatment efforts from neighboring Burundi to DRC, where they are focusing on reaching patients in rural areas. Conducting patient outreach in the areas of Moba (located south of Bukavu in the eastern region of the country bordering Lake Kivu) and Lubumbashi (located in the south), WAHA performs fistula surgeries at two treatment sites, Kirungu and Beniker hospitals. Over the course of this current project, their goal is to provide surgery to 125 women. In addition to funding surgeries, support from Fistula Foundation is also helping provide patient outreach and transportation, on-the-job training for local health staff, and psychological counseling to help patients reintegrate into their communities following treatment.


Where is Democratic Republic of Congo?

Facts About Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Population:81,331,050
  • Average births per woman:4.53
  • Physicians per 10,000 people:1
  • Births attended by skilled personnel:80.1%
  • Lifetime risk of maternal death:1 in 24(chances a woman will die during childbirth)
  • Female life expectancy:58.9 years
  • Female literacy:50%
  • Population living in rural areas:57.5%
  • Population living in poverty:63%(less than $1.25/day)
  • Surgeries completed through Fistula Foundation funding to date:1869

Sources: CIA World Fact Book; WHO, World Bank.

We’re Making a Difference in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dr. Denis Mukwege and Fistula Foundation CEO Kate Grant

Dr. Denis Mukwege Honored by ACOG

Congratulations to our partner surgeon Dr. Denis Mukwege, who was recently recognized as a College Honorary Fellow by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) at their 2015 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Dr. Mukwege is the founder and lead surgeon at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of our…

Dispatches from the Field

This September, Fistula Foundation Director of Marketing and Development Joop Rubens and Board member Dr. Larry William traveled to Central and East Africa to visit several of our partner sites. They began their journey at one of our longest-term partners, Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before moving on to Kenya, Burundi…