On Sunday, November 3, MJB hosted Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, Chief of the Executive Board and the External Relations Branch of UNFPA, for a seminar on key social issues on the UN’s agenda and the lessons from Israel.
The visit was part of MJB’s on-going professional support for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ work with the United Nations, supported by the Marshall Weinberg Fund for International Collaboration and Development.
The UNFPA is the major international body dealing with policies of sexual and reproductive health, health and educational opportunities for youth and young adults, and gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The briefing began with a visit to a Women’s Health Center operated by the Clalit HMO, where our guests were introduced to the services provided to a broad spectrum of Jerusalem residents, with an emphasis on maternal and reproductive health. Special emphasis is also placed on providing culturally sensitive services to groups such as Arab-Israeli and Ultra-Orthodox women. Clinic staff noted that such services, together with education and outreach, are contributing to major changes in the health behaviors of these populations.
This visit was followed by a series of presentations by senior Institute researchers on issues of concern to the UNFPA in which the Institute is deeply involved. These included:
• Recent developments in the national Tipat Halav maternal and child health program
• The innovative ISHA integrated program to promote women’s health
• Israel’s national mental health care reform, designed to significantly expand access to mental health care
• The development of Israel’s national dementia strategy, which was launched last month
• Educational inclusion for children with disabilities
The discussions focused on the implications of these developments for the UN’s international program, with the guests relating to developments elsewhere around the world and the activities of the UNFPA in these areas.
Dr. Osotimehin and Dr. Ojiambo emphasized that their exposure to this work clearly identified a number of opportunities to expand the cooperation between Israel and the UNFPA, and welcomed much closer ties with the Institute.
In a follow-up letter, the Ministry’s Shuli Davidovich, Director of the Department for International Organizations and Specialized Agencies, wrote that the visit succeeded in presenting Israel’s unique and innovative work in many areas of social services and a communicated a clear sense of the significant role played by MJB. The Ministry requested that the Institute submit a set of concrete areas of cooperation to be included in its new accord being finalized with the UNFPA.
About Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin
On 1 January 2011, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, a physician and public health expert, became only the fourth Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. He holds the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Before this appointment, Dr. Osotimehin was Nigeria’s Minister of Health. Prior to that, he was Director-General of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS, which coordinates HIV and AIDS work in a country of more than 160 million people.
Dr. Osotimehin qualified as a doctor from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1972, and went to the University of Birmingham, England, where he got a doctorate in medicine in 1979. He was appointed Professor at the University of Ibadan in 1980 and headed the Department of Clinical Pathology before being elected Provost of the College of Medicine in 1990. Years later, he served in several organizations, including as Chair of the National Action Committee on AIDS, from 2002 to 2007. Dr. Osotimehin received the Nigerian national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in December 2005.
At UNFPA, he has introduced major reforms to make the Fund more focused and results-oriented as well as intensified efforts to promote the rights and ability of young people to build a better world in the context of sexual and reproductive health.
He is married and has five children.