Pakistani lepers’ messiah Dr Ruth Pfau passed away early Thursday morning at the age of 87 in Karachi.
The founder of the National Leprosy Control Programme in Pakistan, Dr Pfau passed away around 4am today. The funeral mass will be held on Saturday, August 19, at 11am at St Patrick’s Cathedral, and thereafter will be laid to rest in the Christian Cemetery (Gora Qabristan).
The body will be taken to St Patrick’s Cathedral on August 19, 2017 at 8:30am for viewing. The 87-year-old was admitted to the Aga Khan Hospital on Wednesday in critical condition.
Dr Pfau dedicated her life to treating patients in Pakistan. She founded the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in Karachi and in all provinces of Pakistan, including Gilgit-Baltistan. She had treated over 50,000 families since the inception of the centre.
Dr Pfau had been living in Pakistan since 1960 and came to the country when she just 29. When she witnessed the suffering of the country’s leprosy patients she decided to stay here. She was a German nun and a member of the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary, who devoted the last 50 years of her life to fighting leprosy in Pakistan.
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.
With her efforts, in 1996, the World Health Organisation declared Pakistan one of the first countries in Asia to have controlled leprosy. She was awarded the Hilal-e-Pakistan in 1989 and Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 1979 by the government of Pakistan. Dr Pfau was also on the front line when Sindh was hit by floods in 2010.
In December 2015, Dr Pfau, was awarded the Staufer Medal at the German consulate. “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.
A ceremony was organised at the German consulate to mark Dr Pfau’s services and for the German consul-general to award her with the Staufer Medal, the highest award of the German state of Baden-Württemberg for her work to eradicate leprosy in the country.
“When I came to Pakistan no one recognised me but then people started to appreciate my work across the country,” said Dr Pfau of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre. “I have worked hard with my team to eradicate leprosy in Pakistan, our hard work could not completely eliminate this disease but at least we managed to decrease it,” she said. “This award is not just for me but for all of my teammates,” Dr Pfau added.
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