The Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria on Tuesday joined other Nigerians and global stakeholders in mourning the death of Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin.
Osotimehin, the Executive Director of United Nations Fund for Population, died on Sunday in New York, U.S.
Reacting to the demise of Osotimehin, the President PPFN, Mrs Aishatu Lawan, expressed “deep sense of loss at the death’’.
“At this sad moment we wish to commiserate with his family, UNFPA, the Government and people of Nigeria,” Lawan said in a statement.
She described the deceased as “a researcher, academic, administrator and more recently an activist of women rights’’.
The president of PPFN noted that Osotimehin has “shown commitment and determination to improve health care delivery particularly for women across the world’’.
Lawan said that PPFN has been providing information and services in reproductive healthcare in Nigeria since 1964.
According to her, the organisation that is a member of International Planned Parenthood Federation is collaborating with UNFPA to promote sexual reproductive health and rights in the country.
Dr Babajide Osotimehin announced in a statement on Monday that senior Osotimehin died on June 5 in New York, U.S., at the age of 68.
Until his death, Osotimehin was a minister of health in Nigeria between Dec. 17, 2008, and March 10, 2010.
He also served as the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS between March 2007 and December 2008, and Chairman, National Action Committee on AIDS from July 2002 to March 2007.
He was appointed on Nov. 19, 2010, as the Executive Director of UNFPA for a four-year term and assumed the position on Jan. 1, 2011.
He was reappointed to this position on Aug. 21, 2014, to become the organisation’s fourth executive director.
He holds the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
According to wikileaks, he attended Igbobi College between 1966 and 1971. After his medical studies at University of Ibadan, Osotimehin received a doctorate in medicine from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, in 1979.
As chairman of NACA he oversaw the development of systems that, today, manage more than US$1billion. During his tenure as Project Manager for the World-Bank assisted HIV/AIDS Programme Development Project from 2002–2008, he achieved great success.
Osotimehin’s interests include youth and gender, within the context of reproductive health and rights. He declared that young people would be his special focus at UNFPA.
“We 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 said in a 2005 article in the New York Times.
He noted that nearly 58 per cent of Nigerians with H.I.V. are female. Many girls in Nigeria are married off before they are physically or psychologically ready, when they are as young as 13 or 14. It is not acceptable for them to ask their partners to use a condom or to refrain from sex.
Later that year, he said that the government had ordered an increase to 250,000 of the number of HIV-positive people on Nigeria’s antiretroviral treatment programme.
He believes humility is 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’’. He also appreciated cultural sensitivity and understanding as vital tools in driving his goals.
He is survived by a wife, five children and three grandchildren.
Besides, Osotimehin held various positions, including: African Spokesperson, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Minister of Health, Nigeria, December 2008 – March 2010.
Other responsibilities were Project Manager, HIV/AIDS Programme Development Project (World Bank-Assisted), 2002–2008; Chairman, Project Governing Board, Joint Regional HIV/AIDS Project in the Abidjan–Lagos Transport Corridor, 2003–2008, and Vice-President, 14th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), 2005
He was also the Chairman, Committee of Presidential Advisers of AIDS Watch Africa; Member, Policy and Strategy Committee, The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Member, Global Steering Committee on Universal Access.
Similarly, Osotimehin was the Coordinator, the Social Sciences and Reproductive Health Research Network, Ibadan, Nigeria (an interdisciplinary network comprising sociologists, economists, doctors, lawyers, psychologists and human nutritionists dedicated to applying innovative research techniques to reproductive health and human development), and Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, 1990–1994. Professor of Clinical Pathology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, 1980.
As Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osotimehin united all 36 states to build a national health plan focused on primary health care.
In a September 2009 press conference, he said that Nigeria had yet to comply with the Abuja Declaration that 15 per cent of the budget of each African country should be devoted to health care. Nigeria as a whole was only spending between eight per cent and nine per cent, although some states were doing much better.
In October 2009, 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. In December 2009, he reaffirmed the government’s commitment to eliminate poliomyelitis and other childhood killer diseases.
Until his death, Osotimehin was a member or affiliate of the following: Member of the Royal College of Physicians (UK); Fellow in Endocrinology, Cornell University Graduate School of Medicine, New York, United States, 1979–1980; Distinguished Visitor, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, United States, 1996; Visiting Fellow, Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, 1996–1997.
He was a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences since 2006; Population Association of America International Advisory Group, Population and Reproductive Health, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago; Regional Advisory Panel (Africa and the Middle East), Special Programme on Research and Research Training in the Human Reproduction Programme of the World Health Organisation.
Similarly, the deceased served in the following capacities: Chairman of the Committee to draft a Policy on Basic Health Sciences Research and Health Technology Delivery for the Nigerian Government; Nigerian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism The Nigerian Medical Association; and The Nigerian Institute of Management.
Osotimehin bagged the Nigerian national honour, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), December 2005, during his lifetime.
He has written or contributed to many papers and several books; including: N. C. den Boer, ed. (1989) “Clinical Biochemistry Services in Tropical Africa”, and Clinical chemistry: an overview. Springer. ISBN 0-306-43093-2.
Olayiwola A. Erinosho; Babatunde Osotimehin; Janice E. Olawoye (1996). Women’s empowerment and reproductive health. Bookcraft Ltd., for Social Sciences and Reproductive Health Research Network. ISBN 978-2030-14-7.
Babatunde Osotimehin (1999) Male responsibility in reproductive health: the construction of manhood in Nigeria: phase I, and The Social Science and Reproductive Health Research Network. ISBN 978-028-569-5.
David Celentano, Chris Beyrer (2008). “12: Nigeria and West Africa”. Public Health Aspects of HIV/AIDS in Low and Middle Income Countries: Epidemiology, Prevention and Care. Springer. ISBN 0-387-72710-8.
Babatunde Osotimehin (2008). The control of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria: the journey so far (WHARC).