October 23, 2017

PM Abbasi announces state funeral for late Dr Ruth Pfau

12 August 2017, 09:36 | Silvia Roy



Sister Ruth Pfau at a charity event in May 2009.

Dr Pfau first visited Pakistan in 1960 and was so touched by the plight of leprosy victims that she made a decision to stay forever in the country to treat them.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has announced that Pfau will receive an official state funeral.

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A few days prior, she had been hospitalized in Karachi due to complications related to old age. Her death is indeed a great loss for the entire nation.

In a letter sent to the federal government, Murad expressed sorrow over demise of Ruth Pfau, who devoted 50 years of tireless struggle fighting the stigmatized disease of leprosy in Pakistan.

Dr Ruth Pfau, a German doctor and nun who was popularly known as Pakistan's "Mother Teresa" for dedicating her life to healing leprosy patients, died today at a private hospital in Karachi. "Ruth Pfau may have been born in Germany, her heart was always in Pakistan", he writes in a statement. 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. Afterwards, she returned to Karachi to organize and expand the Leprosy Control Program. She convinced the government and then bosses of the health care management system to start a National Leprosy Control Programme in partnership with Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center (MALC).

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She was 29 when landed in Karachi for the first time. "Actually the first patient who really made me decide was a young Pathan", she told Lobel. "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". However, it is far more important to carry forward her mission and cause even more diligently. She was the one who touched those who were believed to be untouchable.

Her interaction with leprosy patients in the port city motivated her to change the plan and stay rest of life in Pakistan to help the patients.

Dr. Ruth Pfau clearly understood that the complex condition of leprosy patients also affected their livelihood; therefore, she purposefully inducted a number of leprosy patients as regular staff member in Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center (MALC). She spent more than a half century of public service and finally went on his eternal journey. She was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz - Pakistan's second highest civilian award - in 1979 and the Hilal-e-Pakistan in 1989. It was due to her efforts against the disease that Pakistan was declared the first country in Asia to have controlled leprosy.

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