Karachi (August 20, 2017): Dr Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau was a German-born Pakistani physician and nun of the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary.
She was born on 9 September 1929 in Leipzig, Germany, to Protestant parents. Pfau moved from Germany to Pakistan and devoted nearly 50 years of her life to fighting leprosy which resulted in deceleration of Pakistan by WHO to have controlled leprosy. She came to Pakistan when she was 29.
Ruth Pfau was known as “Pakistan’s Mother Teresa.” She contributed in founding 150 leprosy clinics across Pakistan, and treating over 50,000 families.
Pfau had four sisters and one brother. Her home was destroyed by bombing during World War II.
In 1960, aged 31, she decided to dedicate the rest of her life to the people of Pakistan and their battle against leprosy outbreaks.
Pfau went to distant areas of Pakistan where there were no medical facilities for leprosy patients. She collected donations in Germany and Pakistan and cooperated with hospitals in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
On 23 March 1989, Pfau received the Hilal-i-Pakistan award presented by the then-President of Pakistan Ghulam Ishaq Khan at the President House for her work with leprosy patients.
On 14 August 2010, on the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day, the then-President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari awarded Pfau the Nishan-i-Quaid-i-Azam for public service. Pfau was awarded the Staufer Medal, the highest award of the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg.
Early morning on 10 August 2017, around 4:00 a.m., Pfau died at the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi after being admitted there on 4 August 2017.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi announced a state funeral for Dr Ruth Pfau, a symbol of selflessness and devotion to leprosy patients.
After her final rites were performed at the St Patrick’s Cathedral church, the ‘Pakistani Mother Teresa’ was laid to rest in Gora Qabaristan, Karachi.
Sindh government renamed Civil Hospital to Dr. Ruth K.M. Pfau in recognition of her services in medical field rendered.