Population group mourns loss of UN population fund director

9 June 2017

Media Releases 2017

Sustainable Population Australia Inc.

Patrons: Hon. Bob Carr, Dr Paul Collins, Prof Tim Flannery, Em Prof Ian Lowe, Dr Mary E White

Youth Ambassador: Ms Bindi Irwin

Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) is mourning the loss of UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, who died earlier in the week at his home in New York aged 68.

Dr. Osotimehin, a Nigerian physician and public health expert, had been UNFPA’s Executive Director since 2011, with the rank of United Nations Under-Secretary-General.

SPA’s national president, Dr James Ward, says Dr Osotimehin will be missed because of his commitment to women’s reproductive health and rights.

“He understood how important they were in purely humanitarian terms but also how they were integral to stabilising population growth,” says Dr Ward.

“Dr Osotimehin vigorously championed three major goals. He sought an end to preventable maternal deaths; he urged universal access to family planning and for the elimination of harmful practices against women and girls.”

UNFPA suffered a severe setback in April when US President Donald Trump stopped US funding of the organisation as part of the ‘Global Gag Rule’. This denies funding to any organisation that administers or even discusses abortion.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned that this withdrawal of funding to UNFPA could have ‘devastating effects’ on vulnerable women and girls around the world.

The Netherlands’ government has since announced a plan for a new international fund to compensate for the withdrawal of US funds.

Dr Ward says the work of UNFPA is vital as it provides family planning as well as maternal and child health in more than 150 countries.

“As a tribute to Dr Osotimehin, we must all work to end preventable maternal deaths, to provide universal family planning, and to eliminate harmful practices against women and girls.”

Further information: James Ward 0408 819 175 president@population.org.au

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