Babatunde Osotimehin

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Babatunde Osotimehin
Babatunde Osotimehin at the London Summit on Family Planning.jpg
Osotimehin speaking at the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012
Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund
In office
1 January 2011 – 4 June 2017
Preceded byThoraya Obaid [ar]
Succeeded byNatalia Kanem
Federal Minister of Health
In office
17 December 2008 – 17 March 2010
Preceded byAdenike Grange
Succeeded byOnyebuchi Chukwu
Personal details
Born(1949-02-06)6 February 1949
Ogun State, Nigeria
Died4 June 2017(2017-06-04) (aged 68)
New York City, United States[1]

Babatunde Osotimehin (6 February 1949 – 4 June 2017) was a Nigerian physician, who served as Minister of Health, and in 2011 became the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, holding the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, reappointed in August 2014 until his death. Osotimehin's interests were youth and gender, and he advocated for reproductive health and reproductive rights, particularly within the context of the HIV epidemic. One of his strengths was his reliance on data and evidence.

Early life, education[edit]

Babatunde Osotimehin was born in February 1949 in Ogun State.[2] He attended Igbobi College between 1966 and 1971. He studied medicine at University of Ibadan, Nigeria. In 1979 he moved to the UK for a doctorate at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom,[3] and from 1979 to 1980 was a fellow in endocrinology at Cornell University Graduate School of Medicine, New York, United States.[4]


In 1980, he returned to Nigeria and became Professor of Clinical Pathology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. He climbed the academic ladder and from 1990 to 1994 he was Provost of the College of Medicine at Ibadan.[4]

Ostotimehin's interests included youth and gender, within the context of reproductive health and rights.

In a 2005 article in The New York Times, he noted that nearly 58 percent 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.[5][6] Later in 2005, 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.[7]

From July 2002 – March 2007 he was Chairman of the National Action Committee on AIDS in Nigeria, and from 2002 to 2008, he was Project Manager for the World-Bank assisted HIV/AIDS Programme Development Project.[8][9] In 2005, at the 14th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), he was vice-president. From 2003 to 2008 he was Chairman of the Governing Board, Joint Regional HIV/AIDS Project in the Abidjan–Lagos Transport Corridor.[4] From March 2007 – December 2008 he was Director-General at the Nigerian National Agency for the Control of AIDS.[4]

Minister of Health, 2008–2010[edit]

On 17 December 2008, Osotimehin was appointed Minister of Health. During his tenure, he united all 36 states to build a national health plan focused on primary health care. From December 2008 – March 2010 he was the African Spokesperson of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Osotimehin contested the view of fellow NIgerians that homosexuality and the transmission of HIV were not an issue in Africa.[3]

In a September 2009 press conference, Osotimehin said 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.[10] 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.[11] In December 2009 he reaffirmed the government's commitment to eliminate poliomyelitis and other childhood killer diseases.[12] He left the office in March 2010, when Acting President Goodluck Jonathan dissolved his cabinet.[13]

UNFPA appointment, 2010–2017[edit]

On 19 November 2010, Osotimehin was appointed as the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for a four-year term. He assumed the position on 1 January 2011 and became the organisation's fourth executive director, holding the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.[14]

Young people remained 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."[15] He was the Director-General of the Nigerian National Agency for the Control of AIDS, an agency which coordinates all HIV and AIDS work in a country with more than 150 million people. As chairman of the National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA) he oversaw the development of systems which in 2011, managed more than US$1billion.[15]

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."[15] Cultural sensitivity and understanding are also vital. He was married and had five children He was reappointed to the position on 21 August 2014.[16]

Personal life, death[edit]

Osotimehin died in Harrison, New York, suburb of Manhattan, on June 4, 2017, aged 68 years. Colleagues at UNFPA have described him as " physically imposing and incredibly eloquent" and "not lack[ing] in self-confidence", respectively, and that "he was a visionary". It has been said that one of his strengths was his reliance on data and evidence.[3]

Osotimehin is survived by his wife, Olufunke, five children and five grandchildren.[3]


Osotimehin was a member or affiliate of the following:[4]


Selected bibliography[edit]

Osotimehin wrote or contributed to many papers and several books.[18] A selection follows:

  • N. C. den Boer, ed. (1989). "Clinical Biochemistry Services in Tropical Africa". Clinical chemistry: an overview. Springer. ISBN 978-0-306-43093-0.
  • 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 978-978-2030-14-6.
  • 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 978-978-028-569-2.
  • 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 978-0-387-72710-3.
  • Babatunde Osotimehin (2008). The control of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria: the journey so far. WHARC.


  1. ^ "Osinbajo, UN, UNFPA, others mourn Babatunde Osotimehin". Premium Times. 5 June 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  2. ^ "How Osotimehin, died in New York". Vanguard News. 5 June 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Geoff Watts Obituary Babatunde Osotimehin The Lancet, Volume 390, No. 10089, p24, 01 July 2017 DOI:
  4. ^ a b c d e UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund (21 August 2014). "Babatunde Osotimehin". UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  5. ^ Babatunde Osotimehin (19 August 2005). "The Other Half". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  6. ^ Sandra Risa Leiblum (2006). Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy. Guilford Press. p. 426. ISBN 978-1-59385-349-5.
  7. ^ "Nigeria Has World's Third-Highest Number of HIV-Positive People, USAID Says". Medical News Today. 13 October 2005. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  8. ^ "Rigorous Scrutiny for Ministerial Nominees". ThisDay. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  9. ^ "UNU-Cornell Africa Series Three Speaker Biographies". United Nations University. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  10. ^ "Govt Yet to Meet Abuja Declaration Target – Health Minister". ThisDay. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  11. ^ Ruby Rabiu (14 October 2009). "FG Orders Prompt Treatment of Gunshot, Accident Victims". Daily Trust. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  12. ^ Florence Udoh (10 December 2009). "Polio Virus Has Declined in Nation By 80% – WHO". Daily Champion. Archived from the original on 31 January 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  13. ^ Daniel Idonor (17 March 2010). "Jonathan Sacks Ministers". Vanguard. Archived from the original on 22 March 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  14. ^ "Secretary-General Appoints Babatunde Osotimehin of Nigeria Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund". United Nations. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  15. ^ a b c Morris, Kelly (26 February 2011). "Babatunde Osotimehin: New Executive Director of UNFPA". The Lancet. 377 (9767): 711. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60258-4. PMID 21353892. S2CID 205961876. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  16. ^ "Secretary-General Appoints Babatunde Osotimehin of Nigeria Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund". United Nations. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  17. ^ mHealth Summit (8 November 2010). "Babatunde Osotimehin, PhD". mHealth Summit. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  18. ^ "Google Scholar results for Babatunde Osotimehin". Retrieved 17 December 2009.