04 Apr 2011 - The International Rescue Committee is profoundly saddened to confirm that Dr. Boubacar Toure, our senior reproductive health advisor in Congo, was among those who died in a United Nations plane crash today in Kinshasa.
Dr. Toure, 63 and a native of Guinea, was an internationally recognized leader in the maternal health field and was deeply committed to reversing high levels of maternal mortality in Congo and other countries where he has worked.
Dr. Toure, known to most as Bouba, joined the IRC in Congo in 2008 to oversee an extensive reproductive health care program in four war-impacted provinces. Under his tenure, the program grew further in scale and became an international model. Dr. Toure worked closely with the Ministry of Health and with specialized agencies to provide state-of-the-art training for hundreds of health care workers; improved national policies regarding health care for women and girls; mentored emerging health care leaders in Congo; dramatically increased access to emergency obstetrics, family planning and other vital services; and insured that hospitals and remote clinics were supplied with life-saving medicines. Dr. Toure also provided leadership for reproductive health care training in other African countries.
Colleagues who worked alongside him, or who participated in his training sessions, recall his lively sense of humour and the infectious passion with which he spoke of improving access to reproductive health services.
"Dr. Toure devoted his life to improving health services for women and girls," says George Rupp, the IRC's president. "His dedication was apparent to all who met him."
During his long career, Dr. Toure frequently lectured at universities and gave presentations on reproductive health issues around the world. In 2010, he was a featured panelist at a U.S. State Department conference in Washington during which he discussed the unique health needs of women and girls in conflict zones, and in particular, stressed the need for resources to respond to complications in pregnancy and childbirth in settings such as Congo.
Dr. Toure received his medical training at the First Institute of Medicine in Moscow. He also received a Masters of Public Health and Public Health Administration from the University of South Carolina.
He is survived by his wife, Salamantou, four children and one grand-child.
"Our heart goes out to Dr. Toure's family, friends and colleagues around the world who knew and admired him," says Ciaran Donnelly, the IRC's regional director in Congo. "His humanity and vibrant spirit were an inspiration to us all."