12 August, 2017
PAKISTAN'S magic leprosy healer Dr Ruth Pfau passed away early Thursday morning at the age of 87 in Karachi. With the passing away of each national hero, we can not afford a setback of 10, 20 or 50 years to create an institute from scratch, especially one they dedicated their life to build. Citizens of Pakistan must continue to contribute to these ventures, in this case the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre. It is because of her selfless service to the humanity that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has announced state funeral for Dr. Ruth. She did this with every other child and introvert human being she met in her life.
He added that Dr Pfau, through her dedication and "illustrious toil", had proven that humanity has no boundaries.
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 from the Ruth Pfau Foundation in Würzburg said Sister Pfau had "given hundreds of thousands of people a life of dignity".
Colin Dwyer at NPR reports that Pfau's order, the Daughters of the Hearts of Mary, sent her to India when she was 29 years old. On her way there, she was held up due to visa issues for some time in Karachi, where she first encountered leprosy, an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms, legs, and skin areas around the body.
"Actually the first patient who really made me decide was a young Pathan". "He must have been my age, I was at this time not yet 30, and 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". The German-Pakistani doctor and nun greatly helped Pakistan to achieve the target of controlling leprosy, set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1996. She was the one, who served the unwanted, who provided shelter to the abandoned, and who showered love to the one who was betrayed by their own. 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.
Soon after the announcement of her death, homage began pouring in from the Pakistani authorities.
It was much later that she founded the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre with all its amenities and comforts. In 1979, the Pakistani government appointed her Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The government of Pakistan bestowed her with Sitara-e-Pakistan, Hilal-e-Pakistan and Hilal-e-Imtiaz for her invaluable contributions. In 2002 she won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, regarded as Asia's Nobel Prize. She will be laid to rest in a Christian Cemetery, located at Shahrah-e-Faisal, Karachi.