DR. BABATUNDE OSOTIMEHIN (OON) (1949 - 2017)

No. of pages: 19

Publication date: August 2017

Author: UNFPA NIGERIA

Download

Born on 6 February 1948, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, astute physician and academic led a life that combined exceptional professionalism with deep humanitarian values, in service to the world's most vulnerable, marginalised and disempowered people.

Having served first in a local capacity as the first Executive Director of National Agency for Control of Aids (NACA), and as Minister of Health for Nigeria, he became well acquainted with the heath and gender problems that are typical to developing countries.

His eventual elevation to the global stage as Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) gave him the opportunity to drive solutions for local problem (across developing countries) through a topdown approach that showed deep understanding of the plight of vulnerable individuals, excluded people, and neglected communities.

It is worth noting Dr. Osotimehin served as the first Director General of National Agency for Control of Aids at a time when the body was only a presidential committee, with a restricted scope of operation. Yet, his ability to develop systems of effective research, information gathering and policy implementation was so impressive that the body was eventually approved to become a Federal Government agency, in which he then became the pioneer director.

His time in NACA saw an increase in 250,000 HIV-positive Nigerians receive anti-retroviral treatment, while also being able to attract the World Bank assisted HIV/AIDS Programme Development Project to Nigeria in order to shore up funds needed for implementing the goals of NACA. His tenure as Minister of Health in Nigeria was marked by his dogged insistence for all the states in the federation to build a national health plan that focuses on primary healthcare.

These experiences, coupled with his vast knowledge on global health practices, accounts for his appreciation for data-driven analysis of health and reproductive problems, as well the urgency with which he pushed for solutions.

While Dr. Osotimehin's burial took place on 21st July 2017, a series of memorial events in, New York, London, Abuja, UN System Nigeria and Ibadan were held in his honour between July 10th and July 21st. These events brought together dignitaries and friends from all across the world, including the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres who was represented by the Acting Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Natalia Kanem. This Newsletter briefly captures the national and international celebration of his life in the wake of his passing, as well as the humanitarian content of his legacy.

More than just being an excellent performer in positioning UNFPA's mandate, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin was a man who believed in people, and this was visible in the outpour of tributes at his funeral and in the course of the various memorial activities held for him. Clearly, Dr. Osotimehin would be remembered not only as a man that developed solutions to address the plight of the marginalised and vulnerable people in economicallydisadvantaged or conflict-ridden communities, but also, as a person who inspired many at the individual level, and whose life exhumed empathy and a commitment to ending human sufferings of all kind.

Yet, while the world may remember him mainly for an illustrious career dedicated to the service of humanity, those who worked with him, people who were directly or indirectly under his tutelage appreciated how much of a humane and exceptional character he was. And the difference he made in their lives. We dedicate this special edition of Newsletter to honour him.

Signed Mabingue Ngom Regional Director West & Central Africa