4 January 2011 A former Nigerian health minister with wide experience in fighting HIV/AIDS has taken over the leadership of the United Nations agency charged with assisting countries with reproductive and maternal health, and population development.
Babatunde Osotimehin, who has also served as African spokesperson for the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, became the fourth Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on 1 January, succeeding Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.
UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
When announcing the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s appointment in November last year, his spokesperson said that Dr. Osotimehin will bring a wealth of experience and passion to the work of UNFPA, coupled with extensive knowledge and understanding of the global and national framework and processes that are critical to the work of UNFPA.
His predecessor at UNFPA, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, had said, “Dr. Osotimehin’s qualifications and extensive experience position him well to lead the global agenda for population and development and to promote the right to sexual and reproductive health.”
Previously serving as Nigeria’s Minister of Health from December 2008 to March 2010, Dr. Osotimehin has also served as Director-General of his country’s National Agency for the Control of HIV and AIDS. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and has held several senior posts at the University of Ibadan. In recognition of his contributions, especially as a leader of Nigeria’s response to HIV and AIDS, he was awarded the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger in 2005.
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