Panzi Hospital

Panzi Hospital

Founded in 1999 by Dr. Denis Mukwege, world-renowned gynecologist and co-recipient of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, Panzi Hospital specializes in compassionate, holistic care for survivors of sexual violence as well as maternal care and family planning. Unfortunately, insufficient resources and inadequate infrastructure prevents Panzi from meeting the needs of its patients. Consequently, White was commissioned by the Luxembourg Red Cross to design a master plan for a renovated, expanded and improved hospital together with the Panzi team.

The current challenges

Mukwege and his team have treated nearly 100 000 women and children suffering from severe gynecological trauma, many of whom are survivors of rape as a weapon in conflict. Because of the ongoing conflicts and political instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), resources are scarce and conditions far from ideal. The hospital suffers from overcrowding. Even though its initial capacity was 125 beds it now accommodates up to 450 patients in a very limited space. For example, 200 victims of sexual violence are accommodated in a space with a capacity of less than 100 beds, forcing the women to share beds.

Other challenges include inefficient flow and logistics, inappropriate location of activities, poor water, electricity and sanitation systems, as well as a lack of technical infrastructure. The new masterplan is supposed to provide the infrastructure necessary to ensure that the hospital can continue its mission to provide a sanctuary for survivors of sexual violence and to serve as a global centre of excellence for holistic healing.

Client: Panzi Hospital
Location: Bukavu, Democratic republic of Congo
Status: Proposal
Images: White View and Mukwege Foundation | Panzi Foundation

Panzi Hospital is run by human rights defender, Dr Denis Mukwege, reciever of the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 and the Sakharov Prize winner 2014

Architecture that can support a holistic care model

The new masterplan master plan is designed to consolidate the technology-intensive care functions on the site, thus shortening distances and improving communications between them. The largest addition is a new, modern four-storey hospital building on the currently under-utilized eastern section of the site, opposite the existing medical imaging and diagnostics building and laboratory. This main new building is dedicated to care intensive functions and emergencies. As functions move out of existing buildings and into this one, existing space is made available for outpatient clinics and less care intensive functions. In total, the future hospital contains 466 beds.

The building designated for care for survivors of sexual violence will be expanded to accommodate additional beds and a new operating unit. By adding another wing and a third floor, ward capacity is tripled. There will also be another floor added to the buildings containing private clinics, doubling their capacity. The segregated wards for infectious patients will also be expanded and modernized.

The most technologically advanced functions in the hospital – adult and paediatric emergency units, intensive care units, a maternity unit, and an operation unit – fit into a single ground floor here to create excellent opportunities for cooperative and efficient care. The five wings of the building are arranged around a central space, the “rondpoint”, which vertically connects all different floors. Here staircases, elevators and ramps are placed, and it becomes a natural meeting space and central communication hub.

The new building is characterised by strong architectural qualities. Plenty of daylight, views of the surrounding greenery, access to gardens, and beautiful and durable materials make up a health-promotive environment that can support the world-class treatment offered by the Panzi staff.

“We think that the holistic model we created at Panzi deserves to be exported to other countries because the scourge of the raped woman exists everywhere in the world. However, today we are not able to multiply this model. Our working conditions do not allow us, for example, to invite medical teams to our hospital to convey our approach. The new hospital shall be able to play this role of a training center. “
Dr Denis Mukwege, Founder, Panzi Hospital

The four pillars of the holistic care model

  1. Medical treatment: medical procedures for sexually abused women, care for women with fistulas or other genital lesions, comprehensive sexual health and reproduction program, family planning, safe motherhood, mobile clinics, etc.
  2. Psycho-social support: psychotherapy and various other therapies provided by psychosocial assistants, psychologists and psychiatrists.
  3. Socio-economic reintegration: income-generating activities (such as agriculture, farming, fishing or small craft business), literacy programs, career training and educational support for children, women’s groups, etc.
  4. Legal assistance: access to lawyers and legal experts who guide survivors through the justice process, including filing formal complaints, taking testimony, and participating in awareness raising activities.

Once the new buildings are completed, the remaining existing buildings will undergo extensive renovation and new systems for water and energy infrastructure will be integrated throughout the site. A new water pipe network and water treatment plant will be installed, enabling management of wastewater and rainwater, including underground rainwater reservoirs, in order to make sure that access to drinking water is secured and that hygiene standards can be maintained.

Sustainability on all levels

Health & well-being

Research shows that the physical environment greatly influences medical treatment outcomes and recovery. A beautiful, accessible and attractive environment shows consideration for the individual user.  Small wards and private spaces for patients create a sense of safety, whereas space for meeting places is needed to promote social sustainability through community. Architectural access to natural daylight, greenery and outdoor views improve the healing process.


Climate adaptation

Despite limited resources, smart solutions can ensure a well-functioning hospital building:
– The need for electrical light can be decreased by maximizing access to daylight through windows size and layout.
– Indoor spaces can be protected from overheating by planning well calibrated sun shading solutions.
– The use of air conditioning can be reduced by designing systems for natural ventilation.
– Carefully selected materials and detailed solutions can prevent damage from moisture.
– Sun energy can be stored in the building to then passively heat it during the cooler hours of the day.

Resource efficiency

Even though the hospital is located in a region rich with natural resources, the access to and use of those resources is restricted because of the political instability. Any thoughtful design must take this into consideration, and devise ways to maximize the value of the resources available both in construction and maintenance. Locally sourced and produced materials such as brick and timber could decrease the project’s ecological footprint.

Designed for the future

The new construction will be designed with a well-tested module system that ensures flexibility of use, possibilities of future changes and resilience during technical development. All buildings are also designed to be structurally robust, as this is a region under seismic risk. Materials that require as little maintenance as possible shall be encouraged throughout.

Be part of the solution – help Panzi realise its triple mission

Panzi needs to be renovated and expanded in order to be able to fully fulfil its mission, which is to be:

  1. A global centre of excellence for the holistic approach of treating women who have survived sexual violence and other genital injuries, including:
    a training centre for the repair of fistulas and other gynaecological trauma and lesions,
    a centre of excellence for minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy) and orthopaedic surgery.
  2. A regional training centre with a Mother-Baby Unit to reduce maternal mortality, with a new delivery room and other related services, as well as family planning outreach programs.
  3. A referral hospital in the Ibanda Health Zone, including a nutrition centre covering the health region and an HIV/AIDS treatment centre.

There is an ongoing fundraising process to ensure the funding for this important project. More information can be found at:

You can read more about the project in our comprehensive report here.

Read more about the project in our comprehensive report

Healing Survivors, Serving Mothers & Empowering Women.

Panzi Hospital: building a global center of excellence for women and girls in Central Africa

Contact & Team

Cristiana Caira

Cristiana Caira

Key account manager

+46 703 15 86 77

Carl Molin

Johan Lundin

Agnes Orstadius

Maria Glädt

Alejandro Pacheco Diéguez

Marie-Claude Dubois

Rikard Sjöberg

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