UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin -
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CAIRO – 6 June 2017: The Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Babatunde Osotimehin, passed away on June 5 at the age of 68. The global public health leader was recognized for his work on sexual and reproductive health.
Osotimehin was appointed as the head of UNFPA in November 2010. Prior to his work with UNFPA, he held senior positions in Nigeria, including the country's Minister of Health.
Before his death, he intended to start a Husbands’ school in Nigeria following a successful model seen in the Niger Republic.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, along with other senior UN officials, have paid tribute to Osotimehin. The Guterres published a statement recalling Osotimehin’s efforts to promote and advance sexual and reproductive health services for families around the world and especially in most vulnerable communities.
The statement also referred to Osotimehin’s work on advocating for family planning, women’s education, children’s health and action on HIV/AIDS. The statement also praised Osotimehin’s work in advancing the Cairo Program of Action on Population and development 1994 that was adopted by 179 countries and recognized for the first time that women have the right to control their reproductive and sexual health and to choose whether to become pregnant.
“Dr. Osotimehin was admired globally for his leadership of the UN Population Fund and for his forceful advocacy for the world's women and girls in particular,” said Secretary-General Guterres in a statement.
From its side, the UNFPA said that Osotimehin's passing was a “devastating” loss for the agency and people especially women, girls and youth. UNFPA added that Osotimehin's was a strong leader and helped keep the health, dignity and rights of women and girls high on the global agenda as he understood that the world's 1.8 billion young people are truly its greatest hope for the future.
The longtime partner to UNFPA, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF also mourned Osotimehin’s passing. The agency issued a statement saying that Osotimehin was a respected leader for his efforts to provide essential health care to women and adolescents around the world especially for the poorest and most disadvantaged.
The head of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé, said the young people have lost a champion by Osotimehin’s passing.
Osotimehin qualified as a doctor from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1972, and went to the University of Birmingham, England, where he got a doctorate in medicine in 1979. Among other honors, he received the Nigerian national honor of Officer of the Order of the Niger in December 2005. He led several councils, including the chairperson of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Demographic Dividend that offers policy advice to lawmakers on economic growth that comes with a decline in a country’s birth and death rates. He was interested in youth and gender within the context of reproductive health and rights. He was married, had five children and several grandchildren.
“Family planning is probably the most important intervention you can give to liberate a woman’s energy and life,” Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA in an interview with the UN News Center 2013.