June 21, 2019

Health Minister Reports Catholic Church To Parliament Over Undermining Family Planning Program

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Health Minister Dr Diane Gashumba speaking today at the forum of the Network of Rwandan Parliamentarians on Population and Development (RPRPD)

The Catholic Church has directed hospitals under its control to send back government funding for family planning programs, says Health Minister Dr Diane Gashumba.

The Health Minister this Friday told a Network of Rwandan Parliamentarians on Population and Development (RPRPD) that she has two letters in her possession which were written by the Catholic Church.

The network includes lawmakers from the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, and have convened a forum bringing together all government and donor agencies dealing with population and health issues.

The catholic Church, according to the Health Minister, has given deadline of June 30 to the hospitals to return all funding associated with family planning.

“They also direct in the letters that the hospitals should not include family planning in their budgets again in the future,” said the Minister.

“It means that if a hospital director obliges with the directive, they will send back funding for HIV/Aids testing and counselling, funding for monitoring pregnancies and funding for nutrition”.

Government had agreed with stakeholders that health centers offer a full package of health services to expectant mothers who visit for treatment or giving birth.

The letters of the Catholic Church show that the Vatican wants to choose which programs should be available at its facilities, different from others in the country.

The Vatican has stood still in its opposition to artificial birth control, preferring to promote what it calls ‘natural ways’ like abstinence from sex before marriage.

Data given to the parliamentary netwrork also shows that about 19% of women in Rwanda do not get family planning Family services appropriately.

Government wants to increase access from current 50% to over 60 percent.

With nearly 300,000 babies born every year, which is the population of one of the 30 districts, the authorities are desperate to put a brake on the population explosion.

At the event today, the 2019 State of World Population report was also launched.

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