By: Abimbola Adewole.
The New Future Foundation has expressed deep shock and grief following the demise of UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, who passed on June 4, 2017, West Harrison, NY.
“We are short of words,” NFF founder, Dr. Delois Blakel said, “The news hit her like a tornado because such hardworking man should be around for a while.
Mr. Osotimehin was a pillar of strength in the administration and Exemplary Leadership of UN Population Fund and for the world’s women and girls. The role he played in the struggle on Sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, still stands out.
Osotimehin was appointed Minister of Health on the 17th December 2008; he united all 36 states to build a national health plan focused on primary health care. From December 2008 – March 2010 he was the African Spokesperson of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Osotimehin contested the view of fellow Nigerians that homosexuality and the transmission of HIV were not an issue in Africa.
Osotimehin said that Nigeria had yet to comply with the Abuja Declaration that 15% of the budget of each African country should be devoted to health care. Nigeria as a whole was only spending between 8% and 9%, although some states were doing much better. He pointed out that medical institutions were required by law to treat accident and gunshot victims. Refusal to give treatment could be punished by a jail term. He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to eliminate poliomyelitis and other childhood killer diseases.
In November 2010, Osotimehin was appointed as the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for a four-year term. He assumed the position on 1st January 2011 and became the organization’s fourth Executive Director, holding the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Young people remained his special focus at UNFPA. ‘’the need to ensure that young people of both genders have equal participation, not only in reproductive rights and health but also within society and in the economy’’. He was the Director-General of the Nigerian National Agency for the Control of AIDS, an agency which coordinates all HIV and AIDS work in a country with more than 150 million people.
He believed humility was the key to engaging people and facilitating change, “humility to engage with the other person of the other community in such a way that they know that you respect them.
“Our prayer is for Almighty God to grant him eternal rest, and also give those he has left behind, the fortitude to bear the big loss.
He was married and had five children.