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Babatunde Osotimehin (1949 - 2017)

Getty / Robin Marchant

Babatunde Osotimehin (1949 - 2017)

Babatunde Osotimehin, the Nigerian medical doctor and executive director of the United Nations Population Fund who advocated for the rights of girls and women, died Sunday, June 4, 2017, according to multiple news sources. He was 68.

The death of Osotimehin, a former Nigerian minister, was announced by the fund on Twitter: "With profound sadness, we announce that our Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, has passed away."

In a news release, the fund called the death “a devastating loss for UNFPA and for the people, especially women, girls and youth, he dedicated his life to serving, starting from when he became a doctor in Nigeria."

"UNFPA expresses its deep sympathy to his family and prays that they have the fortitude to bear this great loss.

“Dr. Osotimehin was bold and never afraid of a challenge, and his strong leadership helped keep the health and rights of the world’s women and girls high on the global agenda. He understood that the world’s 1.8 billion young people are truly its greatest hope for the future."

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Osotimehin was born Feb. 6, 1949, in Ogun State, Nigeria. He received his doctor of medicine degree in 1979 from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

He served as Nigeria's minister of health from December 2008 to March 2010. He became executive director of UNFPA in January 2011 and served until the time of his death.

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, tweeted, "Our world lost a great champion of well-being for all, especially women & girls."

Osotimehin received Nigeria's national honor, officer of the Order of the Niger, in December 2005.

The fund said Osotimehin advocated for three primary goals: "zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet demand for family planning, and the elimination of harmful practices against women and girls."

The UNFPA vowed to continue Osotimehin's work, "and will continue to stand up for the human rights and dignity of everyone, particularly the most vulnerable adolescent girls."

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