By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
LAGOS—Circumstances surrounding the death of former Minister of Health, and current Executive Director of the United Nations Populations Fund, UNFPA, and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, remain unknown.
Vanguard gathered from sources close to the family that the former Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, passed on in his home in New York on Sunday, June 4.
According to the sources, Osotimehin, who turned 68 last February 6, had no previous history of ill health and had attended church service earlier and also had a telephone conversation with his wife, Funke, who was visiting their daughter in London.
Further, it was gathered that the deceased, who was with his son, Dr Babajide Osotimehin, reportedly took ill suddenly and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, but gave up soon after.
Confirming the death, yesterday, the family said funeral arrangements would be announced soon.
Osotimehin, who hailed from Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, was born on February 6, 1949.
A source from the UNFPA Nigeria office, who earlier confirmed the death, regretted the development and said their late boss was being expected in the country for a proposed programme on democratic dividend.
“He never showed any signs of illness. He was being expected in the country later this month before the news broke. His death was real shock to us,” the source said.
Osotimehin, once Provost of the College of Medicine at the University of Ibadan, served previously as Nigeria’s Minister of Health between December 17, 2008, and March 10, 2010.
He was appointed the 4th Executive Director of UNFPA in November 19, 2010 and was reappointed on August 21, 2014.
Prior to his appointment at UNFPA, the deceased was the Director-General of the Nigerian National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, an agency that coordinates all HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.
As chairman of the National Action Committee on AIDS, NACA, he oversaw the development of systems that, today, manage more than US$1billion. During his tenure as Project Manager for the World-Bank assisted HIV/AIDS Programme Development Project from 2002–2008, he achieved great success.
He will be greatly missed – Minister of Health, Prof Adewole
In a reaction, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, expressed shock, saying, he will be greatly missed.
Adewole, who recalled that Osotimehin was an accomplished physician, former Provost College of Medicine University of Ibadan and former Director General of NACA, said the deceased would 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.
He was a good minister to a fault
On his part,President of Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Dr Mike Ogirima said: “During his tenure as Health minister, he made sure that the welfare of health workers was taken care of. He was a minister that was good to a fault and gave us what we now know as CONMESS and CONHESS.
Global Health Community will miss him —Toyin Saraki
Also on her Instagram page, wife of the Senate President, and Founder of Well Being Foundation, Africa, Mrs Toyin Saraki, said the global health community will miss the late Osotimehin, who she described as being an ally in improving conditions and outcome of pregnant women, newborns, children, adolescents and their communities.
He will be remembered for his fight against HIV/AIDS — NACA DG
Director-General of NACA, Dr, Sani Aliyu said the agency is saddened by the death of Osotimehin who he described as a distinguished scholar, researcher and first Director General of the Agency.