Staff and Patients in DRC Face Uncertainty, Panzi Foundation in USA Responds

UPDATED at 10:21AM Eastern Standard Time

(LOS ANGELES, CA)On December 30, 2014, the Panzi Hospital staff in DRC received word from the Congolese government, through the DGI (Directorate General of Taxes), that the Hospital allegedly owed upwards of €500,000 in penalties. Authorities seized €38,000. This translates to roughly $600,000 in US dollars for the total penalties, with $47,000 already seized.. 

The Panzi Hospital, like all general reference hospitals in DR Congo. operates in the public interest..No other hospital has been targeted for seizures. No other hospital faces frozen assets already allocated to salaries, supplies, food and services for the 370+ employees and 300+ patients currently in the Hospital’s care.

Panzi has always been registered and operated under CEPAC, a legally registered nonprofit public institution.  It is a faith-based organization. Panzi is the only hospital in the Ibanda Health Zone. It is a teaching hospital. It has been registered and legally recognized as such for years.

Incoming Executive Director, Naama Haviv, stated: “Through Dr. Mukwege’s innovative vision, best practices are developed and implemented. Services unavailable to survivors are in jeopardy. Maternal and newborn care is in jeopardy. At Panzi, lives are saved, healed, restored and given hope. This work must continue and the accounts of the Hospital must be accessible.”

Haviv concluded, “The outpouring of support for Dr. Mukwege and the entire Panzi team, in Congo and around the world, speaks to the necessity of this work.”

To address this crisis, the Panzi Foundation USA is raising funds and facilitating direct transfers to fund emergency operations at Panzi Hospital.  A major social media campaign grew from a protest in Bukavu at the offices of the DGI. Supporters are encouraged to take a photo of themselves with the hashtag #IStandWithPanzi or #StandWithPanzi, and post it on social media. Supporters may text ‘Panzi’ to 41444 to donate, or join the cause.

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