Pakistan’s magic leprosy healer and founder of the National Leprosy Control Programme in Pakistan, Dr Ruth Pfau passed away early Thursday morning at the age of 87 in Karachi. She had been admitted to the ICU of a private hospital after her health deteriorated earlier.
Dr. Pfau had been living in Pakistan since 1960 and came to the country at the age of 29. She had dedicated the last 50 years of her life to treating patients in Pakistan. She was a German nun and a member of the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary. She had travelled to various parts of Pakistan to medically facilitate leprosy patients, a journey she said enjoyed tremendously because of the marked difference made in the lives of her patients. It was due to her endless struggle that Pakistan defeated leprosy and became free from it in 1996. According to estimates she had treated over 50,000 families since the inception of the centre.
Dr. Ruth Pfau was granted Pakistani citizenship in 1988 and received numerous accolades for her services; Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 1979, Hilal-e-Pakistan in 1989 and the German Staufer Medal in 2015. In one of the ceremonies held to honour her services, she said that “When I came to Pakistan no one recognised me but then people started to appreciate my work across the country,”
Prime Minister, President of Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff and many other political leaders have expressed deep regret at Dr. Ruth’s death. Some termed her as ambassador of humanity and some said that she has set an example of selflessness through her efforts.
It is very hard to find selfless people, Dr Ruth was one of those, and her services to humanity will always be remembered. With her death, some reservations may also appear. As it happened after the death of great social workers Abdul Sattar Edhi that his welfare organization had to face financial issues to keep operating efficiently, we hope that decades’ long struggle of Dr. Ruth would continue without any hardships.
Dr Ruth Pfau’s services and love for Pakistan will always be remembered.