First African Tapped As New Head Of U.N. Population Fund

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on Friday that former Nigerian Health Minister Babatunde Osotimehin has been appointed to head to head the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.K. Press Association reports. Osotimehin, “a 61-year-old medical doctor and AIDS expert, is the first African to head the agency,” according to the news service (11/20).

U.N. News Center reports that Osotimehin “will succeed Thoraya Ahmed Obaid as the Fund’s Executive Director when her term ends on 31 December. Ban expressed his gratitude to Obaid for her services to UNFPA and her commitment in championing the cause of women’s and young people’s health and empowerment” (11/19).

According to the Associated Press/Taiwan News, “Obaid said in a statement that Osotimehin’s ‘qualifications and extensive experience position him well to lead the global agenda for population and development and to promote the rights to sexual and reproductive health.” The article notes Osotimehin, “[a] specialist in clinical psychology, … headed the National Agency of Nigeria for the Control of HIV/AIDS, and is currently provost of the University of Ibadan’s College of Medicine” (Lederer, 11/20).

A U.S. Department of State statement congratulated Osotimehin on his appointment. “The United States strongly supports UNFPA and family planning programs worldwide, providing $55 million to support UNFPA in 2010,” the statement adds (11/19).

The U.K. Press Association looks at the U.S. relationship with UNFPA: President “George W Bush’s administration had cut off money to UNFPA because of claims, denied by the agency, that it supported forced abortions and sterilisations in China. [President] Barack Obama’s government reversed the policy and renewed funding for the agency” (11/20).

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