Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Sister Pfau, German Nun Renowned for Treating Pakistan's Lepers, Dies at 87

Sister Pfau, German Nun Renowned for Treating Pakistan's Lepers, Dies at 87

The 87-year-old, Pakistan's Mother Teresa, who devoted her life to control leprosy in Pakistan is no more available at his 2nd floor small room in Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center (MALC), located in a densely populated area of Karachi. But before she began her work there, a visa snafu left her stuck in Karachi.

Her interaction with leprosy patients in the port city motivated her to change the plan and stay rest of life in Pakistan to help the patients. She is expected to be given a state funeral. "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".

Due to her tireless efforts, the World Health Organisation in 1996 declared Pakistan one of the first countries in Asia to be free of leprosy.

Not required to take the veil or live in seclusion, she ended up in Pakistan by chance.

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The passing of Dr Ruth Pfau was a blow to Pakistan's medical and humanitarian community - as well it should be.

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". She founded the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in Karachi in 1962 and later set up its branches in all provinces of Pakistan, including Gilgit-Baltistan, and treated over 50,000 families.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed his sadness over her death, saying "she may have been born in Germany, but her heart was always in Pakistan". Her death is indeed a great loss for the entire nation.

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussein said Sister Ruth's dedication to ending leprosy in Pakistan "cannot be forgotten". In 1979, the Pakistani government appointed her Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

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Dr Pfau was granted Pakistani citizenship in 1988.

"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. "She came here at the dawn of a young nation looking to make lives better for those afflicted by disease, and in doing so, found herself a home". She spent more than a half century of public service and finally went on his eternal journey.

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.

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