Pakistan’s leprosy fighter Ruth Pfau’s birth anniversary being celebrated
LAHORE – The 91th birth anniversary of Dr Ruth Pfau, a German doctor who dedicated her life to eradicating leprosy in Pakistan, is being observed on Wednesday (today).
Dr Ruth Pfau was a German physician born in 1929 who was dedicated to eradicating leprosy in Pakistan and has been dubbed ‘Pakistan’s Mother Teresa’.
She built a network of over 150 medical centres including homes for the handicapped and workshops for artificial limb manufacture.
Dr Pfau, who was born in Leipzig in 1929 and saw her home destroyed by bombing during World War Two, had discovered her calling to help lepers coincidentally.
She had studied medicine and was sent to India in 1960 by her order, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, but was stuck in Karachi owing to a visa issue. During this time, she first became aware of leprosy.
However, Dr Pfau went to India in 1961 for training but then returned to Pakistan and started a campaign to contain leprosy, a mildly contagious bacterial infection.
Dr Pfau trained Pakistani doctors and attracted foreign donations, building leprosy clinics across the country.
She preferred to stay in Pakistan to serve the destitute patients and her unprecedented services and role in eradicating leprosy and tuberculosis will always be remembered with respect and reverence.
She joined the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center and soon transformed it into the hub of a network of 157 medical centers that treated tens of thousands of Pakistanis infected with leprosy.
Less than four decades after Dr Pfau began her campaign, the World Health Organization declared it under control in Pakistan in 1996, ahead of most other Asian countries.
She was granted Pakistani citizenship in 1988 and received numerous accolades for her services, including the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Nishan-i-Quaid-i-Azam and Hilal-i-Pakistan.
In May 2017, Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Tariq Bajwa along with German Ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler unveiled Rs50 commemorative coin in recognition of meritorious services rendered by Dr Ruth Pfau.
Dr Pfau, who was hailed as the Mother Teresa of Pakistan, passed away on August 10, 2017 at a hospital in Karachi. She was 87.