Dr. Osotimehin was born in Nigeria and trained to be a doctor there at the University of Ibadan. He received a doctorate in medicine from the University of Birmingham in England in 1979.
He was Nigeriaâs minister of health and 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 Forumâs 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 countryâs 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.
He is survived by his wife, Olufunke Osotimehin, five children and several grandchildren.
Dr. Osotimehin expressed his strong view that population stabilization was tightly linked to female empowerment.
âThere are countries where the population is growing faster than the economy,â he told The New York Times in 2012. âWe try to work with these countries to make sure girls have access to education to empower women to participate in politics and the economy.â
In nations where low rates of education consistently correlated with high fertility rates, he promoted a high-school level education for girls, who could then find jobs rather than be immediately married off by their families.
âIf you educate girls to the secondary level, then exposure to pregnancy doesnât happen until they are mature and can made choices,â Dr. Osotimehin said.