Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Medical | By Rita Mcdonald

Pakistan's leprosy fighter passes away in Karachi

Pakistan's leprosy fighter passes away in Karachi

Ruth Pfau, a German-born nun who was known as the Mother Theresa of Pakistan for devoting her life to efforts to rid that country of leprosy, died Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Karachi, Pakistan.

Born on September 9, 1929 in Leipzig, Sr. "The people of Pakistan salute her unforgettable services, and her legacy will continue to flourish", he added. She felt unfulfilled, however, so she joined a Roman Catholic order, the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary.

Pfau was granted Pakistani nationality in 1988 and she was presented with the Hilal-i-Pakistan, the country's highest civilian honour, the next year.

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"Saddened to learn of Dr. Ruth Pfau's passing", wrote Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, adding: "Her spirit of selfless dedication leaves a void that will be hard to fill".

Not required to take the veil or live in seclusion, she ended up in Pakistan by chance.

The nun founded the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in Karachi in 1962 and later set up its branches in all provinces of Pakistan, including Gilgit-Baltistan, and treated over 50,000 families. It is the most elevated honor of the German territory of Baden-Württemberg - by the German delegate general to recognize the work she has done in putting a stop to leprosy.

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Columnist Bina Shah said: "She [Pfau] revolutionised leprosy treatment in Pakistan". Last year, the number of patients under treatment for leprosy fell to 531 from 19,398 in the 1980s, the Dawn newspaper said. After World War II, when Russian Federation occupied East Germany, she and her family, including a brother and four sisters, escaped to West Germany. But she was stranded in Karachi because of a visa issue and it was then that she became aware of leprosy.

She was honoured by the state with the country's two highest civilian awards, the Hilal-e-Imtiaz and the Hilal-e-Pakistan.

The last rite of Sr.

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Her last rites will be performed at Karachi's Saint Patrick's Church on August 19.

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