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Penn Nursing > About > Honors > Renfield Award

Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women's Health

Dr. Denis Mukwege

Obstetrician and Gynecologist
Panzi Hospital & Panzi Foundation, Democratic Republic of Congo

On March 24, 2016, Denis Mukwege, a decorated humanitarian and outspoken advocate for women’s rights, will receive the 2016 Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health for his work in treating and highlighting the plight of women in the war-torn eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The eastern part of the DRC has been mired in regional warfare – since the late 1990s – resulting in more than five million deaths, brought about by disease, hunger and violence. Militias and rebels terrorize the region’s women and children – from infants to the elderly – with mass rape and sexual violence. Fear of being victimized renders women unable to farm and feed their families, so they flee. Their destination for years has been Bukavu, a city in the region. This migration over the years has created a health care crisis. In the past 15 years, the population of Bukavu has swelled from 250,000 people to more than one million.

This crisis attracted the attention of Dr. Mukwege, a trained obstetrician and gynecologist, who lives and works there. In 1999, he established the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, offering much-needed health care to women. The hospital has become known worldwide for the treatment of survivors of sexual violence and women with severe gynecological problems. Mukwege and his staff have performed reconstructive gynecological surgery on more than 21,000 females injured as a consequence of war, including those subjected to rape. He also established a nurses training program, the Institute de Techniques Medicales de Panzi, to provide education and clinical training to about 50 nurses per year, so that the standard of clinical care can be maintained.

“The Renfield Award is given to an individual who demonstrates leadership in improving women’s health. Dr. Mukwege embodies the essence of this award in his tireless and courageous efforts to deliver health care and other social services to women in an area that has seen far too much violence, Dr. Mukwege has been their voice for justice, not only in this region, but across the world.”
- Antonia Villarruel, PhD, FAAN, Dean, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

For questions about the Renfield Award event or nomination process, please contact Cathy Greenland, Director of Strategic Initiatives, at