The development fraternity is mourning the death of Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Babatunde Osotimehin.
Dr Osotimehin passed away suddenly at his home in New York on Sunday, aged 68, according to UNFPA.
The cause of his death is yet to be established.
“This is 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,” said UNFPA management.
“UNFPA expresses its deep sympathy to his family and prays that they have the fortitude to bear this great loss.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres led the world in mourning Dr Osotimehin.
“I mourn the death of UNFPA chief Dr Babatunde Osotimehin. Our world lost a great champion for wellbeing of all, especially women & girls,” he posted on his Twitter account.
Kenya’s Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki termed Dr Osotimehin as “champion for women and youth” and lauded his work in reproductive health.
Kenya’s coordinator for United Nations Siddharth “Sid” Chatterjee also described the deceased as a fighter to the end against female genital mutilation and child marriage.
Kenya was among the first countries Babatunde visited immediately after he took the helm of leadership in UNFPA.
He came back to Kenya in June 2016, a meeting where he was accompanied by Melinda Gates.
Dr Maureen Mwanawasa, former Zambia’s First Lady, wrote: “Sincere condolences to the family. Such rare commitment to duty in serving humanity.”
UNFPA supports a lot reproductive health programmes in Kenya, including studies that mark the performance of the counties on maternal health.
Dr Babatunde, a trained physician, became the director of the organisation at January 1, 2011.
Before this appointment, Dr Osotimehin was Nigeria’s Minister of Health.
Prior to that, he was Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids, which coordinated HIV and Aids work in Nigeria.
The acting director is Natalia Kanem, who was his deputy.