By Mbakaan Kwen, Abuj
The Economic Commission for Africa has joined the United Nations family in mourning the sudden death of United Nations Population Fund Executive Director, Babatunde Osotimehin, who passed away in his New York home Sunday evening.
In a press release made available to LEADERSHIP, acting executive secretary, Abdalla Hamdok, said Mr. Osotimehin, a physician and global leader of public health, would be sorely missed.
“Under his leadership, the ECA and UNFPA worked closely on major policy initiatives that were aimed at improving the lives of populations across Africa, in particular in the context of the Addis Ababa declaration on population and development beyond 2014,” said Mr. Hamdok.
“Our continent has lost a great leader and a real son of Africa and the world a staunch advocate for the health, dignity and rights of women, girls and the youth. His legacy on advancing population and development issues in the world, particularly in Africa, will live on.”
At the UNFPA, Mr. Osotimehin 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. The UNFPA is urging those who want to honour his legacy to do so by rallying around those global goals.
He also led the organization’s efforts on HIV prevention, especially among adolescents and young adults, promoting condoms and ensuring that women and adolescent girls receive HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health services.
Mr. Osotimehin also led Nigeria’s AIDS response as minister of health and as the director general of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of HIV and AIDS before joining the UNFPA in 2011.
“Staff and management of the ECA convey their deepest condolences to Dr. Osotimehin’s family, to UNFPA’s staff and to the people of Nigeria,” said Mr. Hamdok.