The executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Babatunde Osotimehin is dead.
In a statement issued by UNFPA, the 68-years-old died suddenly at his home on Sunday night. However, the cause of his death has not been communicated.
“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,” the statement reads in part.
Osotimehin, a physician and public health expert, became UNFPA’s fourth executive director on January 1, 2011, with the rank of United Nations Under-Secretary-General.
The Nigerian national has been at the forefront of advocating the rights for women and young people, particularly the most vulnerable adolescent girls. UNFPA has pledged to continue standing up for the human rights and dignity of everyone.
“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 statement said further.
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.
Before this appointment, Osotimehin served as Nigeria’s health minister. Prior to that, he was Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDs, which coordinated HIV and AIDS work in Nigeria.
He qualified as a doctor from the University of Ibadan in 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.
He was married and is survived by five children and several grandchildren.