Health Care

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

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

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has announced that Pfau will receive an official state funeral.

A few days prior, she had been hospitalized in Karachi due to complications related to old age. She was founder of the National Leprosy Control Programme in Pakistan and the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in Karachi and in all provinces of Pakistan including Gilgit-Baltistan.

Ruth Pfau, a German doctor and nun who dedicated her life to eradicating leprosy in Pakistan and who has been described as the country's "Mother Teresa", died in Karachi on Thursday.

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Pakistani leaders mourned the August 10 loss of the doctor and religious sister, and praised her contributions in fighting the disfiguring disease that usually leads to the ostracization of its victims. "Pakistani nation salutes Dr Pfau and her great tradition to serve humanity will be continued", said President Mamnoon Hussain.

Pfau was also praised for her work in helping victims of devastating flooding in 2010, which left millions of people homeless across swathes of the country.

Harald Meyer-Porzky of the Ruth Pfau Foundation based in Würzburg says that over the decades Pfau had "given hundreds of thousands of people a life of dignity". Though leprosy is not a life threatening disease but disfiguring of skin and body tissues have health, social and economic consequences and its successful treatment matters much for the patient. Dr Pfau had an art of bringing out the best in those around her and a magic that I was fortunate enough to witness first hand. However, it is far more important to carry forward her mission and cause even more diligently. In a hut in a slum on II Chundrigar Road in Karachi, she began caring for patients suffering from leprosy.

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Soon after the announcement of her death, homage began pouring in from the Pakistani authorities. She spent more than a half century of public service and finally went on his eternal journey. In 1979, the Pakistani government appointed her Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

She was granted Pakistani nationality in 1988, and in 1989 she was presented with the Hilal-i-Pakistan, the country's highest civilian honour.

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.

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She also authored several books about her experiences, including To Light A Candle, which has been translated into English. She will be laid to rest in a Christian Cemetery, located at Shahrah-e-Faisal, Karachi.

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