Osotimehin will be greatly missed, says Health Minister

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The death has been announced of Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
A statement by Dr Babajide Osotimehin on behalf of the family on Monday said the former Health Minister died on Sunday at the age of 68.
In his reaction, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said he received with shock the news of the demise.
Adewole said in a statement: “Professor Osotimehin was an accomplished physician, former Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and former Director-Deneral of the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA). Until his death, he was the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund.
“The late Osotimehin will be remembered for his role and global contributions to increased access to Family Planning as well as Sexual and Adolescent Health especially in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).
“Professor Osotimehin, whom I fondly called the ‘Big Boss’ during his lifetime, will definitely be missed for his dedication, humility, mentorship and patriotism. 
“While in office as the honorable minister, Prof. Osotimehin was at the forefront of the advocacy for improved reproductive health care in the country”.
The minister, who spoke on behalf of the management and staff of the Federal Ministry of Health, condoled with the family, friends, associates and colleagues of the late professor at the United Nations.
Osotimehin, who hailed from Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, was born February 6, 1949.
He was appointed on November 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 August 21, 2014, to became the organisation’s fourth executive director.
He holds the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Osotimehin served as Health Minister between December 17, 2008 and March 10, 2010.
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 the National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA), he oversaw the development of systems that, today, manage more than $1 billion.
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. Young people will 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 program.
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.’’
Cultural sensitivity and understanding are also vital.
He is survived by a wife, five children and three grandchildren.
Osotimehin held various positions prior to the UNFPA appointment, including: African Spokesperson, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Minister of Health, Nigeria, December 2008 – March 2010.
Director-General, Nigerian National Agency for the Control of AIDS, March 2007 – December 2008
Chairman, National Action Committee on AIDS, Nigeria, July 2002 – March 2007
Project Manager, HIV/AIDS Programme Development Project (World Bank-Assisted), 2002–2008 [9]
Chairman, Project Governing Board, Joint Regional HIV/AIDS Project in the Abidjan–Lagos Transport Corridor, 2003–2008
Vice-President, 14th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), 2005
Chairman, Committee of Presidential Advisers of AIDS Watch Africa
Member, Policy and Strategy Committee, The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Member, Global Steering Committee on Universal Access
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)
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; 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; The Nigerian Institute of Management.
Osotimehin bagged the Nigerian national honour, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), December 2005, during his lifetime. 
Osotimehin wrote or contributed to many papers and several books; including: N. C. den Boer, ed. (1989). “Clinical Biochemistry Services in Tropical Africa”. 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. 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.

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