INTERNATIONALIZATION. A person-centered care model has been developed at Panzi Hospital in the Congo based on years of care of women severely traumatized of sexual violence in the wake of the war. Marie Berg, a professor at the Department of Health and Care Sciences, together with Dr. Denis Mukwege, recently wrote a scientific article describing the “One Stop Centre” care model. In this article she describes the story of her collaboration with the renowned Congolese doctor.
Thirty-two years ago, I arrived for the second time to Lemera Hospital in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country which was then called Zaire. For the coming two years, I would work as a midwife and my husband as a doctor. We were very happy that Dr. Mukwege was working there. However he soon left to begin specialist training in gynecology in France.
During our next assignment at Lemera Hospital, Denis Mukwege returned as a fully trained gynecologist, and from 1989 we had the privilege of working for two years together. At that point, I had decided to broaden my perspective on health work and start a women’s school to raise the knowledge level with everything from literacy to hygiene, pregnancy and childbirth information, and child health and nutrition. The focus and the motive was to support women’s awareness about and choice to give birth to fewer children. I felt that Dr. Mukwege wanted me to focus more fulltime on working as head midwife at the maternity ward as there was much to improve in the care as such. I chose to take a more coaching role, where local midwives gradually took over leadership so I could find time for the women’s school and the midwives could grow into taking a leadership role. Over time, many studies have shown a link between educational level and various health outcomes, and has probably been my most important contribution to health in the D.R. Congo. Working with life skills in a broad perspective through the women’s schools concept was more effective than working with “only” family planning in a narrow perspective.
Years passed, and in 1996 the war in the Congo actually began at Lemera Hospital. When the hospital was hit by a brutal attack aimed at defenseless patients, everyone who could fled. Dr. Mukwege, who was the hospital director, was not present at the time of the attack, and he was never able to return to the hospital he had worked at for seven years. In the wake of the war, terrible atrocities occurred, a topic we focused at the Global Challenge seminar on October 17. The primary form of warfare was sexual rapes combined with brutal violence. Dr. Mukwege became director of the new Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, which was built to mainly promote maternal and children’s health, but which instead became a world-wide well-known hospital in treating women who suffered severe injuries related to sexual violence.
Our involvement with the Congo has continued. During a visit to Panzi Hospital nearly a year ago, Dr. Mukwege asked me to document the care model developed as a result of many years of treating thousands of severely traumatized women and girls. The One Stop Centre Care Model is holistic and is constituted on four pillars: medical, psychological, socio-economic, and legal care. Interestingly, the concept of the women’s school which we used at Lemera, and which has been used widely, is one of the central parts of the socio-economic pillar.
More information is available here:
Mukwege D, Berg, M. A Holistic, Person-Centred Care Model for Victims of Sexual Violence in Democratic Republic of Congo: The Panzi Hospital One-Stop Centre Model of Care. PLoS Medicine. 2016;13(10):e1002156.