Rich tributes paid to Dr Ruth Pfau

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APP12-19 KARACHI: August 19 - Funeral procession of Dr. Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau ‘Nishan - e – Quaid e Azam’ at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. APP photo by Sahib Zaman

ISLAMABAD, Aug 19 (APP): People from different walks of life
on Saturday paid tributes to Dr Ruth Pfau, lauding her
patriotism and service to humanity and eradication of leprosy from
Pakistan.
Social activists, medical practitioners, nurses’
representatives, lawyers and representatives of different segments
of society expressed deep sorrow over the demise of Dr Ruth Pfau,
who spent more than half a century in Pakistan battling leprosy.
In their messages, they said that she played her active role
throughout her life in helping the country’s most vulnerable people
and her spirit of selfless dedication has left a vacuum that would
be difficult to fill.
Dr Ruth breathed her last after a protracted illness. She was
87. Born in Germany, Dr Ruth came to Pakistan in the 1960s. She was
granted Pakistani citizenship in 1988 and was widely recognized for
her service to humanity.
Dr Ruth Pfau on her very first visit to the Leprosy patients’
colony in Pakistan in 60s, got depressed with the situation and
ultimately decided to stay in Pakistan to help the affected Leprosy
patients.
She quickly reorganized the rough hewn dispensary into a proper
hospital building a full service Leprosy treatment and
rehabilitation center,free to patients.
As the news of the work spread, there were some doctors who
came forward and offered their voluntary services at regular
intervals.
Dr Pfau visualized the need to establish a Leprosy hospital in
order to cater to the needs of the many patients visiting the
dispensary. With the help of funds from Germany in 1963 a small
clinic was acquired.
Later, this one storied building expanded to an eight storied
medical building.
In 1968, Dr Pfau persuaded the Government of Pakistan to
undertake a National Leprosy Control Programme in partnership with
Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) and began setting up Leprosy
control centers across the country.
Today, Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre is the hub of 157 Leprosy
control centers, with over 800 staff members.
In 1996, Leprosy was controlled in Pakistan. The prevalence of
the disease reduced to the extent that the World Health Organization
declared the disease to be under control in Pakistan, one of the
first countries in EMRO Region to achieve this goal.
After eliminating Leprosy, she started work on other health
disciplines like TB and blindness control to utilize the free
capacity and ensure presence in the field of Leprosy.
“Can we imagine that a person can leave the comfortable and
luxurious life of developed country and choose a hard life only to
live for sake of humanity,” Dr Nighat Yasir, a social activist said.
She said that Dr Ruth Pfau devoted her life for a noble cause.