Ruth Pfau, "Mother of Leprosy Patients", Has Died

Ruth Pfau

Ruth Pfau in 2004

Mark Lobel at the BBC reports that's when she saw leprosy up close for the first time and decided that would be her life's work.

"With great concern we have got the sad massage of the death of Dr Ruth Pfau".

With Pfau's help, Pakistan was able to declare leprosy under control in 1996.

Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases known to mankind. 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 Ruth Pfau received numerous accolades for her services; Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 1979, Hilal-i-Pakistan in 1989 and the German Staufer Medal in 2015. Even still, Pfau continued to push for public awareness of leprosy in her last years, pointing out that there were still 300 to 400 new cases of the disease reported each year, and it would take at least another 20 years of concentrated effort to eliminate it from Pakistan. 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.

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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"In a society where people tend to avoid any contact with a leprosy patient it was the Pakistan's Mother Teresa who helped cleaned the deformed patients and provided them decent employment opportunities, a rehabilitated patient of MALC remarked".

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 was a messiah and magic healer for her patients". He also mentioned that Dr. Pfau always showed her pleasure because of the positive physical and psychological changes made in the lives of her patients. Dr Pfau had been living in Pakistan since 1960 and came to the country at the age of 29. It was due to her efforts against the disease that Pakistan was declared the first country in Asia to have controlled leprosy.

Through the letter he sought a state funeral from the president in her honor and recognition of her invaluable service to Pakistan. Her funeral is scheduled for August 19 at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi. He is a Development Consultant and Researcher.

The writer is a Fulbright Fellow, specialization in International Development.

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