Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, head of the United Nations Population Fund-UNPF and former Nigeria Minister for Health, died on Sunday night at his home in West Harrison, N.Y. He was 68. The population agency confirmed his death, saying it was sudden, but did not give a cause.
Dr. Osotimehin, had been the executive director of UNPF, the world’s leading provider of family planning services, including contraception, since 2011. He led efforts to advance a 1994 action plan adopted by 179 countries that recognized for the first time that women have the right to control their reproductive and sexual health and to choose whether to become pregnant.
He also advocated family planning services, championed methods to prevent maternal deaths in childbirth and sought to eliminate genital cutting of women and girls. He was once the director general of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS before becoming an undersecretary general with the United Nations. He chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Demographic Dividend, which offers policy advice to lawmakers so they can benefit from the economic growth that comes with a decline in a country’s birth and death rates.
He was also co-chairman of the Family Planning 2020 Reference Group, an international organization that looks to provide family planning services for 120 million more women and girls by the year 2020.