Tributes, as Nigeria mourns late UNFPA boss

Gloria Essien

Nigeria is deeply mourning the passing of Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, the late Executive Director of the UN Population Fund UNFPA.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, described the sudden demise of former Minister of Health, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin as shocking, describing him as a role model whose legacies shall endure.

Professor Adewole said “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,” Adewole said.

The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ)  is mourning the demise of the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) the man who throughout his life “prioritised the health of women and children by making primary health care take the centre stage of health services in Nigeria.”

The National chairman of NAWOJ Mrs Ifeyinwa Omowole said that the news of the death of Osotimehin comes as a rude shock to the association and its members because of his numerous contributions to improving the health of women and children in Nigeria.

“When he became minister of Health in 2008 we recall that he initiated a national health plan in all 36 states that focused on Primary Health care. As expected, maternal and child mortality in Nigeria began to drop as from 2009”. She said.

She said that NAWOJ recalls the giants strides which Osotimehin took when he was the head of the nations agency for the fight against AIDS then called National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA).

“The ex-minister then sensitized Nigerians to the risk of HIV and AIDS and how to prevent it, indeed many were saved. After serving as Minister, Osotimehin proceeded to the UNFPA to also continue the fight for women and children. His death is indeed a great loss to Nigerian women, we will never forget him”, she said.

The Nigeria Medical Association says it is mourning the passing of “a renowned clinical consultant, refined medical lecturer and professor who imparted knowledge to many at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, visionary healthcare administrator and international health manager”.

In a statement, the president of the NMA Dr Mike Ogirima said the late Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin would be missed for “his innovative thinking, strategic engagement and passionate delivery of his several life’s goals including Protecting the Rights to health of women and girls especially in family planning & population matters”.

He said Professor Osotimehin would also be remembered for the “strategic planning and effective program implementation to deliver on health outcomes leading to the production and implementation of the 1st ever National Strategic Health Development Plan 2009-2015; Harmonious industrial relationships in the public health sector and improved conditions of service leading to approval and implementation of special salary systems for all health workers in 2009 and virile pro-development and non-combative medical activism”.

The NMA says it will continue to work with other partners “to actualise his dream of having a world that would be safe for young girls to live in; and in which women would not die needlessly trying to give birth and have choices while fulfilling their reproductive career”. 

Professor Osotimehin was an accomplished physician, former Provost College of Medicine University of Ibadan and former Director General of the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA).

Until his death he was the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund.

Osotimehin died on Sunday night in New York at the age of 68.