Partnering UdeM and the Panzi Foundation, the women, teens and children’s health-and-rights project kicks off in the Democratic Republic of Congo with Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege.
The TUMAINI Health and Rights of Women, Adolescents and Children project was officially launched in early September in Bukavu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The ceremony took place at the Panzi Foundation in the presence of its founder, Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege, and a delegation of Canadian partners in the project.
They included Université de Montréal’s Valérie Amiraux, vice-rector for community and international partnerships, and Karina Dubois-Nguyen, director of UdeM’s International Health Unit and of the TUMAINI project itself.
Also on hand was Marie Hatem, TUMAINI’s scientific director and director of Hygeia Observatory, a Montreal-based women’s health advocacy group.
Canada’s ambassador to the DRC, Benoît-Pierre Laramée, greeted the attendees, as did the governor of South Kivu Province, Théo Ngwabidje Kasi.
The TUMAINI project aims to strengthen Panzi’s patient services through 2027 in four health zones in South Kivu and three provinces in neighbouring Burundi, home to over 2.7 million people.
Several years in the making
TUMAINI is the culmination of several years of meetings, commitment and cooperation among the various parters, beginning n 2017 when Dr. Mukwege met professor Hatem at the Panzi Foundation. In 2018, the gynecologist and human-rights activist was awarded the Nobel, and then, on a visit to Canada in 2019, UdeM bestowed on him an honorary doctorate.
That same year, the Foundation Panzi joined forces with the UdeM’s International Health Unit and the Hygeia Observatory to respond to an offer of funding from Global Affairs Canada, which was finally accepted in 2021. Thus began the TUMAINI project, which aims to bring hope to thousands of people, particularly women, adolescent girls and children.
TUMAINI has three components: improving health service delivery and management, increasing accessibility to health services, and promoting research-based health care policies, legal frameworks and services. In addition to supporting the fight against sexual violence against women and girls and the rehabilitation of survivors, the project will use operational research to scientifically identify elements for the sustainability of Dr. Mukwege's wide-ranging model.
Aiming to transmit the knowledge that comes from the work of the Panzi Foundation, this project is also a reminder of the moral commitment of Université de Montréal, its International Health Unit and the Hygeia Observatory, beyond the result of the research involved. It underlines the fundamental nature of the Panzi Foundation's work, in a part of thr world where injustice and violence have reigned for more than 30 years.
With innovative, sustainable approaches and a highly qualified group of partners, the TUMAINI project could be the wind of change that will rekindle the flame of precious hope, its advocates believe.
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