Rwanda’s Government and the Catholic Church are in fresh talks to agree on how to move forward with delivering the much-needed services in the area of family planning.
The talks come a week after the Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, said at a forum in Parliament that the Catholic Church was frustrating efforts to scale up family planning.
The president of the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church in Rwanda, Bishop Philippe Rukamba, confirms that talks with the government on the matter have been revived.
One of the resolutions of the meeting at the Ministry for Local Government was that an agreement between the government and the Catholic Church on the management of hospitals and delivery of health services need to be reviewed as soon as possible to come up with a new agreement.
“In the current agreement we have many provisions, from use of medicines to the management of staff and infrastructure, and in the ongoing talks we will also discuss about the provision of family planning services,” Rukamba said in the interview.
But the same meeting agreed that, for now, health facilities run by the Catholic Church can continue to provide services in the area of family planning, which excludes the provision of artificial birth control contraceptives.
The church, which runs about a third of the country’s hospitals and clinics but with majority of the healthcare providers at the facilities paid by the Government, only allows natural birth control methods on its premises.
That situation means that patients, who need artificial contraceptives such as condoms, implants, or injection, have to go somewhere else.