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The Mother Teresa of Pakistan: Dr. Ruth Pfau

Regarded as Mother Teresa of Pakistan, Dr. Ruth Pfau was born in Leipzig in 1929, Germany. A student of medicine, she was sent to India in 1960 by the order, Daughters of the Heart of Mary, but got stranded in Karachi due to visa issues. At that time, she first became aware of leprosy.

May 11, 2020

/ by APP
GNN - Pakistan's Largest News Portal
Dr. Ruth Pfau German Doctor
Regarded as Mother Teresa of Pakistan, Dr. Ruth Pfau was born in Leipzig in 1929, Germany. A student of medicine, she was sent to India in 1960 by the order, Daughters of the Heart of Mary, but got stranded in Karachi due to visa issues. At that time, she first became aware of leprosy.

Later, in 1961, Dr. Ruth Pfau went to India only to return to Pakistan, where she launched a campaign to control leprosy, an infectious bacterial disease. She trained Pakistani doctors and built leprosy clinics across the country, attracting foreign donations.

Dr. Ruth Pfau joined the Mari Adelaide Leprosy Center (MALC) and soon turned it into a network of 157 medical centers that treated millions of Pakistanis infected with Leprosy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in 1996 that the disease, also known as Hansen's disease, was more prevalent in Pakistan than in other Asian countries.

She was granted Pakistani citizenship in 1988 and was highly praised for her services, including the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian honor, the Quaid-e-Azam badge, and the Hilal-e-Pakistan.

A symbol of selflessness and devotion, Dr. Pfau passed away on August 10, 2017 at the age of 87 at a Karachi hospital. She was given a state funeral with full national honors and was buried in the metropolis.

Dr. Pfau had traveled to every corner of Pakistan and, with the help of international donor agencies, had built a complete leprosy hospital in Karachi to treat leprosy patients. She dedicated her entire life to the treatment and control of leprosy. It is because of her efforts that Pakistan overcame the leprosy in 1996, four years ahead of the WHO deadline. As such, Pakistan EMRO is one of the first countries in the region to control leprosy and is now on track to be leprosy free.

On September 9, 1999, the Archbishop of Karachi, Shimon Anthony Pereira, held a mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral to celebrate Pfau's 70th birthday, attended by both Christians and Muslims.
She died at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi on August 10, 2017, after being admitted there due to respiratory problems. Pfau suffered from a number of health problems as She grew older, including kidney and heart diseases.

The state funeral of Dr. Ruth Pfau was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral, where flags of both Pakistan and Vatican City were hosted at half-mast. The Pakistani flag was wrapped over her coffin and troops from all three wings of the Pakistan Armed Forces saluted her with 19 guns. The funeral was broadcast live on Pakistan Television. Pfau was reportedly the first Christian and the first non-Muslim to have a state funeral in Pakistan.

Author: Ayyan Ahmed

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