On 1st December certificates were presented by the Provincial Minister of Health to fifteen doctors newly qualified to carry out advanced gynaecological and obstetric operations on rape victims in general hospitals throughout South Kivu. At the same ceremony specialist medical equipment was presented to each hospital by Bukavu Bureau Diocésain d'Oeuvres Médicales (BDOM). The training of doctors and the provision of equipment was made possible by finance from the European Union and its operating partner SCIAF (Scottish Caritas).
The EU/SCIAF programme also offers a range of other services to rape victims and their families, including legal support, psycho-social counselling, free healthcare and schooling for children born of rape, family mediation and income generation opportunities.
As part of their two-month practical training at Katana Hospital, doctors successfully treated 87 women for fistula repair and genital prolapsus surgery. This treatment will now be available for patients attending hospitals in Kalonge, Bunyakiri, Kihumba/Idjwi, Mubumbano, Kabare, Katana, Miti/Murhesa, Kiliba, Nyabibwe/Kalehe, Nyangezi, Ifendula, Kamituga, Kaniola and Fizi zones de santé. Since the training more than 500 other victims have already signed up for similar operations.
SCIAF wishes to express its appreciation of the sterling work done for many years by Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, which until now has been the only medical resource for women victims of sexual violence in need of specialist surgery. Many victims who have been too seriously injured to risk the journey to Panzi, or whose injuries have been left untreated, will now be able to access the care they need in the territories where they live.
Surgery will be available free-of-charge to victims of sexual violence referred by rape crisis centres operated by Bukavu and Uvira Diocesan Justice and Peace Commissions (CDJPs), or by BDOM's network of community-based volunteer accompaniers in the above-named zones de santé.
For details of referral and payment procedures, agencies working with rape victims in South Kivu are invited to make contact with the following:
· BDOM - Maria Masson, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
· CDJP Bukavu - Soeur Antoinette, Project Coordinator, email@example.com
· CDJP Uvira - Abbe Jacques Wilandja, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org