Published: Thu, August 10, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Dr Ruth Pfau " Pakistani Mother Teresa" has passed away

Dr Ruth Pfau

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.

She had travelled to various parts of Pakistan to medically facilitate leprosy patients, a journey she said enjoyed tremendously because of the marked difference made in the lives of her patients. She saw her younger brother die, and risked her own life escaping East Germany. "I could have left Pakistan earlier if I wanted to but I will stay here", said Dr Pfau as she accepted the award from German consul-general Rainer Schmiedchen.

She trained Pakistani doctors and attracted foreign donations, founding Pakistan's National Leprosy Control Programme and the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre, which has a presence in every Pakistani province.

Pfau joined the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary and was assigned to go to India but landed in Karachi for a brief stay due to some visa problems.

She was 29 when landed in Karachi for the first time.

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It was due to her efforts that the World Health Organisation (WHO) finally declared Pakistan a leprosy-free country in 1966.

Her last rites will be performed on 19 August at St Patrick's Church in Karachi and she will then be buried at the Gora Qabristan Christian cemetery in the city. She was awarded the Hilal-e-Pakistan in 1989 and Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 1979 by the government of Pakistan.

German embassy said in a statement that German ambassador Martin Kobler expressed his heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the representative of the Maria Adelaide Leprosy Centre.

Harald Meyer-Porzky from the Ruth Pfau Foundation in Würzburg said Dr Pfau had "given hundreds of thousands of people a life of dignity".

"Dr Pfau's services to end leprosy in Pakistan can not be forgotten".

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