In November 2010, the University of Michigan honored Dr. Denis Mukwege, Medical Director of the General Referral Hospital of Panzi in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with its Wallenberg Medal because of his heroic work treating survivors of sexual violence in the Congo. Two days ago, he was almost murdered because of this work.
As a University community, we were shocked to hear of the threat to Dr. Mukwege and want to express our deepest concern and support for him, his family and his team. At the heart of our institutional values is a commitment to public service, and the belief that one person can make a difference in the struggle for a better world.
Dr. Mukwege and his colleagues at Panzi Hospital have been responding to a calamity of a scale that is simply beyond our imagining. Since the founding of Panzi Hospital in 1999, Dr. Mukwege has performed reconstructive surgery on more than 21,000 women and children, many suffering from severe wounds and mutilations spurred by rapes and violence during the deadly regional war.
A team of University of Michigan faculty, representing multiple disciplines and our global initiatives has been working with Dr. Mukwege to continue to improve the health of women and children throughout the world. Additionally, we are committed to launching a research and clinical hub in the Congo with Dr. Mukwege for the improvement of the lives of women and children. We call on the international community to recognize the importance of this work and push the appropriate authorities to ensure his safety.
Timothy R.B. Johnson, M.D. professor and chair of the University of Michigan Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Ora H. Pescovitz, M.D., Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Michigan, and CEO, U-M Health System