Pakistan's 'Mother Teresa', Dr Ruth Pfau, Dies


Yesterday, Ruth Pfau died at the age of 87 in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. Her demise has undeniably left an irreparable void to the humanitarian cause.

Hundreds and thousands of admirers of Dr. Ruth Pfau are in great shock even the Canary bird, caged outside her room is silent. Dr Ruth Pfau, thank you for being an angel for the people in need.

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

After joining the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, Sister Pfau was sent to India to join a mission in 1960. Afterwards, she returned to Karachi to organize and expand the Leprosy Control Program.

Dr Pfau first visited Pakistan in 1960 and was so touched by the plight of leprosy victims that she made a decision to stay forever in the country to treat them. "He crawled on hands and feet into this dispensary, acting as if this was quite normal, as if someone has to crawl there through that slime and dirt on hands and feet, like a dog". She helped found the National Leprosy Control Centre and trained doctors and aides at the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center.

"Well if it doesn't hit you the first time, I don't think it will ever hit you", she told the BBC in 2010 about her first encounter with leprosy. According to the BBC, she began rescuing children who were disfigured by leprosy who had been forced to live in cattle pens and caves, bringing them to clinics set up around the nation. In 1996, the World Health Organisation declared that the disease had been controlled in Pakistan, and a year ago saw merely 531 patients under treatment.

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It was around fifty seven years ago when a young and charming German lady came to Pakistan and experienced the plight of leprosy patients.

She was also awarded the Staufer Medal at the German consulate Karachi in 2015. In 1979, the Pakistani government appointed her Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

It was only the vision of Dr. Ruth Pfau, who was also the recipient of a number of prestigious national, regional and worldwide awards including Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam, Hilal-Imtiaz, Hilal-e-Pakistan, Ramon Magsaysay Award and BAMBI Award, that made possible the establishment of 157 Leprosy Control Centers from Karachi to Kashmir. In 2002 she won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, regarded as Asia's Nobel Prize.

Pfau wrote several books about her work in Pakistan, with a new volume in English titled, The Last Word Is Love: Adventure, Medicine, War and God, due out in November.

Salwa Zainab, a spokeswoman at Pfau's office, said Friday a funeral service will be held August 19 in Karachi, where Pfau died on Thursday.