Date Published: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Denis Mukwege, Marie Berg
Abstract: Denis Mukwege and Marie Berg describe the One Stop Centre at Panzi Hospital in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that provides care for girls and women who have been raped in combination with extreme bodily harm.
Partial Text: The provision of sexual and reproductive rights and health is an important component in ensuring the highest attainable standard of health [1,2]. However, this is a challenge in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), especially in the eastern part, where rape of women and girls, with extreme sexual violence, has been a leading cause of individual and societal suffering in the last decades. Rape in combination with extreme bodily harm has been used as a war tactic by armed groups and has escalated as a new pathologic societal behaviour among civilians. The sexual and bodily violence related to rapes is not only about destruction of women’s physical and mental functions; it is about the right to health and socioeconomic life of a society [3,4].
OSC models of care have, in recent years, been developed globally in several settings for survivors of violence against women and girls, especially as a method for scaling up quality services during post-conflict reconstruction and recovery in low-income countries . Methodologies are being refined to extend and improve services for survivors as well as to build the capacity of local organisations to take on the issue .
The goal of reducing inequities in health requires attention to unfair distribution of power, money, resources, and everyday life conditions . This includes not only health care itself but also underlying determinants such as clean water and sanitation, adequate food, safe housing, access to education, and the possibility of supporting oneself . The essential factor for health on micro (individual), meso (societal), and macro (national/global) levels is a country’s governance. This is particularly challenging in DRC. In terms of essential governance , DRC is among the weakest countries in terms of accountability, political stability, absence of violence/terrorism, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption.
The OSC, as described here, is a holistic, person-centred care model that treats sexually, bodily, and mentally harmed women as dignified persons having major needs but also being valuable resources for their own healing and society. Their narratives are listened to, and, as persons, they are capable co-creators of their own care plan and healing. We have learned that the persons treated in this care system come out restored not only physically but also in their human dignity. Thus, the OSC model offers much more; it provides a platform for achieving a healthy life at both the micro (the person) and meso (local society) levels. It is a success that beneficiaries are integrated back into their families and communities, such as those grouped in village-savings associations or credit solidarity groups, which are patterns of entrepreneurship and mutual protection. Such groups are the future of social reconstruction in a post-conflict area.