Sindh CM seeks permission for state funeral for Ruth Pfau


"The entire nation is indebted to Ruth Pfau for her selflessness and unmatched services for eradication of leprosy", PM Abbasi said in a press release. Through her actions, she preached that humanity is above everything else.

He added that Dr Pfau, through her dedication and "illustrious toil", had proven that humanity has no boundaries.

Harald Meyer-Porzky from the Ruth Pfau Foundation in Würzburg said Sister Pfau had "given hundreds of thousands of people a life of dignity".

She studied medicine at universities in Mainz and Marburg before joining the Catholic order of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, the organization that sent her overseas as a missionary.

After the war, with Leipzig under Soviet occupation, Dr. Pfau fled from East to West Germany to pursue her medical training, according to her biography on the website of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre. Many patients of leprosy, treated by the MALC, admitted that stigma is a real phenomenon in their lives that really affect their physical, psychological, social and economical well-being.

The Express Tribune of Pakistan once credited Dr. Pfau with having "single-handedly ... turned the tide of leprosy in Pakistan and won the gratitude and personal attentions of people ranging from military rulers to elected ministers to the general public". Afterwards, she returned to Karachi to organize and expand the Leprosy Control Program.

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The Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center is the first private leprosy center in Pakistan. "It was an arranged marriage because it was necessary".

"Actually the first patient who really made me decide was a young Pathan". Speaking to the BBC in 2010, she recalled watching a young man as 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 was also known for rescuing children with leprosy, who had been banished to caves and cattle pens for years by their parents, who were afraid of contracting the disease themselves. It was due to her endless struggle that Pakistan defeated leprosy and became free from it in 1996.

Dr Pfau was undergoing treatment for the past two weeks at the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre, which she had founded in 1960 in the commercial capital Karachi, local broadcaster Dawn News reported. But before she began her work there, a visa snafu left her stuck in Karachi. "We salute her for her memorable services in health sector for the people of Pakistan".

The Pakistan government recognized her selfless service by awarding her the country's second-highest civilian award "Hilal-i-Imtiaz" in 1979, and later "Hilal-e-Pakistan" in 1989. She spent the rest of her life in the country and was granted Pakistani citizenship.