The Man Babatunde Osotimehim (1949 – 2017)

Late Babatunde Osotimehin

By Eric Elezuo

When men of substance appear on stage, they are bound to fulfill the three fold assignment of great men vis-à-vis ‘come see and conquer’. These the man, Osotimehin gloriously accomplished.

Babatunde Osotimehin was born in February 1949 in Ogun State. He attended Igbobi College between 1966 and 1971.

In 1979, he received a doctorate in medicine from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom after completing his medical studies at the University of Ibadan.

Prior to his appointment at UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, Dr. Osotimenhin served as the Minister of Health of Nigeria. Before that, Dr. Osotimehin was the Director-General of the Nigerian National Agency for the Control of AIDS, an agency that coordinates all HIV and AIDS work in a country with more than 150 million people. He was also a former Provost of the College of Medicine at the University of Ibadan.

During his tenure as Health Minister, he united all 36 states to build a national health plan focused on primary health care. In 2009, he mentioned that Nigeria had yet to comply with the Abuja Declaration that 15% of the budget of each African country should be devoted to health care. Nigeria as a whole was only spending between 8% and 9%, 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. He was a workaholic.

As chairman of the National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA) he oversaw the development of systems that, today, manage more than US$1billion. It is on record that during his tenure as Project Manager for the World-Bank assisted HIV/AIDS Programme Development Project from 2002–2008, he achieved great success.

He became the Executive Director of UNFPA on November 19, 2010 to serve a four-year term and was re-appointed on August 21, 2014.

Mr. Osotimehin, throughout his professional career, had consistently advanced the cause of youth and gender, within the context of reproductive health and rights.

The health merchant died while watching television alone in his home in New York on Sunday, June 4, 2017, aged 68.

He is survived by five children

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