By Prudence Arobani
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has said that it was devastated by the sudden death of its Executive Director, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, at his home Sunday night at the age of 68.
Announcing Osotimehin’s death, UNFPA, in a stirring tribute expressed deep mourning for the passing away of its fourth chief executive.
“This is a devastating loss for UNFPA and for the people, especially women, girls and youth, he dedicated his life to serving, starting from when he became a doctor in Nigeria.
“UNFPA expresses its deep sympathy to his family and prays that they have the fortitude to bear this great loss.”
“Dr Osotimehin was bold and never afraid of a challenge and his strong leadership helped keep the health and rights of the world’s women and girls high on the global agenda.
“He understood that the world’s 1.8 billion young people are truly its greatest hope for the future,” the UN Population agency said.
The UNFPA said it was dedicated to continuing Osotimehin’s grand vision for women and young people and will continue to stand up for the human rights and dignity of everyone, particularly the most vulnerable adolescent girls.
“He vigorously championed three major transformative goals of zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet demand for family planning and the elimination of harmful practices against women and girls.
“UNFPA urges all to honour his legacy by rallying around those global goals,” the population fund said.
Osotimehin, a physician and public health expert, became UNFPA’s fourth Executive Director on Jan. 1, 2011, with the rank of United Nations Under-Secretary-General.
Before this appointment, the late UNFPA chief was Nigeria’s Minister of Health.
Prior to that, he was Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), which coordinated HIV and AIDS work in Nigeria.
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.
He was appointed Professor at the University of Ibadan in 1980 and headed the Department of Clinical Pathology before being elected Provost of the College of Medicine in 1990.
Osotimehin received the Nigerian national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger in December 2005. He led several councils, including in the World Economic Forum.
Osotimehin was married, had five children and several grandchildren. (