Ruth Pfau (1929 - 2017)

Aug 11, 2017, 00:28
Ruth Pfau (1929 - 2017)

Ruth Pfau was the founder of Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in Karachi, where she was being cared for at the time of her death after falling ill two weeks ago.

Dr Pfau first visited Pakistan in 1960 and was so touched by the plight of leprosy victims that she chose to stay forever in the country to treat them.

Pfau was granted Pakistani nationality in 1988 and she was presented with the Hilal-i-Pakistan, the country's highest civilian honour, the next year. The President said she made Pakistan her homeland and her services will always be remembered.

KARACHI: Dr Ruth Pfau, a symbol of selflessness and devotion to leprosy patients, passed away at the age of 87 in Karachi late Wednesday night while she was undergoing surgery.

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"We are like a Pakistani marriage", Pfau told the BBC of her occasionally strained collaboration with state officials. Inferable from her endeavors, in 1996, Pakistan was viewed as one of the principal nations to have controlled leprosy infection. In 1979, the Pakistani government appointed her Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. "Pakistani nation salutes Dr Pfau and her great tradition to serve humanity will be continued", said President Mamnoon Hussain. The country's Dawn newspaper reports that previous year, just 531 patients were in treatment for leprosy nationwide - down from 19,398 in the early 1980s. She became known as the Mother Theresa of Pakistan, a reference to Mother Theresa of India, the nun and missionary who became a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

She was honoured with the second highest civilian award, Hilal-i-Imtiaz, and Hilal-i-Pakistan in 1979 and 1980 respectively. She then returned to Karachi to organize and expand the Leprosy Control Programme.

She was also awarded the Staufer Medal at the German consulate Karachi in 2015.

"The most important thing", she said, "is that we give them their dignity back".