Pakistan’s ‘Mother Teresa’, Dr Ruth Pfau, who led a battle against the stigmatized disease of leprosy, in Pakistan, passed away early Thursday morning after a long illness at the age of 87.
This German nun who spent more than half a century in Pakistan battling leprosy and helping the country’s most vulnerable people.
Dr. Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau was born on September 9, 1929 in Leipzig, Germany. She grew up seeing the horrors of the Second World War (1939-1945) during which her city was bombed and her home destroyed.
She studied medicine at the universities of Mainz and Marburg in West Germany. After her graduation she joined the catholic order of the ‘Daughters of the Heart of Mary’.
On her first visit to the Leprosy patient’s colony at McLeod Road (now I. I. Chundrigar Road) she got so depressed with the situation that she resolved on the spot to join the group and help the affected Leprosy patients.
She and Dr. Zarina Fazelbhoy, a Pakistani dermatologist initiated the training programme for paramedical workers.
She also had, in cooperation with the Provincial Governments, completed the network of treatment and control units in the Leprosy affected Provinces (Balochistan, Sindh, NWFP), Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir, traveling to every nook and corner of the country.
In 1979, she was appointed Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Pakistan and In 1996, she managed to control Leprosy in the country.
Her last rites will be performed on August 19 at St. Patrick’s Church in Karachi’s Saddar area.
Following the news of her demise, Chief of Army Staff Qamar Jawed Bajwa referred to Dr Ruth as an “ambassador of humanity” and said “she will always be remembered” for her services.
She has received the following Awards:
1968: The Order of the Cross from Germany.
1969: Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam from Government of Pakistan
1979: Hilal-e-Imtiaz from Government of Pakistan
1985: The Commanders Cross of the Order of Merit with Star from Germany
1989: Hilal-e-Pakistan from Government of Pakistan
1991: Damien-Dutton Award from USA
1991: Osterreischische Albert Schweitzer Gasellschaft from Austria
2002: Ramon Magsaysay Award from Government of Philippines
2003: The Jinnah Award from the Jinnah Society Pakistan
2003: In The Name of Allah Award by Idara Wiqar-e-Adab Pakistan
2004: Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) from Aga Khan University
2004: Life-time Achievement Award from the Rotary Club of Karachi
2005: Marion Doenhoff-Prize, Germany
2006: Life-time Achievement Award from the President of Pakistan
2006: Woman of the Year 2006 Award by CityFM89
2006: Certificate of Appreciation from the Ministry of Health
2009: Nesvita Women of Strength Awards by TVONE
2009: Life-time Achievement Khidmat Award by Al-Fikar International.
On 8th March 2010 she completed her 50 years in Pakistan. Her dedicated services and commitment to eradicate Leprosy and uplift of Marginalized groups in Pakistan gratefully acknowledged and honoured by both her national and international friends and by patients and staff at MALC.
19th February 2010 – The Hamdard University Karachi organized a grand function in honor of Dr. Pfau at their University Campus which attended by renowned celebrities.
6th March 2010 – The Consulate General of Germany in Karachi organized a music concert by Carolina Eyck and her ensemble in honour of Dr. Ruth Pfau at his residence.
7th March 2010 – Patients and Staff celebrated an evening with Dr. Pfau
8th March 2010 – Supporters and well wishers celebrated the day with Dr. Pfau
10th March 2010 – The Health Minister Sindh hosted a lunch and presented a shield
19th February 2010 – Hamdard University (Madinat-al-Hikmah) to acknowledge her lifetime selfless services to the people of Pakistan.
11th March, 2010 – Shield presented by Dr. Saghir Ahmed, Minister Health, Government of Sindh for completion of 50 years of Selfless and Meritorius Service for the Patients of Leprosy.
12th March, 2010 – Shield presented by Staff & Students of Happy Home School in appreciation of 50 years of meritorius services for the Eradication of Leprosy in Pakistan.
12th March, 2010 – Shield presented by Dawood Capital Management Limited on winning the LADIESFUND Woman of the Year Award.
2nd February, 2011 – Lifetime Achievement Award 2011 presented by the International Schools Educational Olympiad, orgaised by Karachi High School.
12th February, 2011 – LADIESFUND woman of the Year Award.
23rd March, 2011 – “Nishan-i-Quaid-i-Azam” Award presented by the President of Pakistan.