Looking back at DR Ruth Pfua: Mother Teresa of Pakistan

One of the greatest humanist of all times

Is the human nature good or bad has been a subject of concern by many social scientists throughout the course of history. It is generally believed that being selfish is a necessary condition for survival and maintenance by every living creature on this planet earth.  Some great men like Thomas Hobbes and Richard Dawkins are of the view that human beings are inherently selfish. According to Hobbes egoism is the fundamental attribute of human nature. However, the world has witnessed examples of compassionate men and women who served humanity selflessly, contradicting the view that human beings are inherently selfish.  Dr. Ruth, during her early life had witnessed the dread of Second World War this resultantly filled her heart with compassion for suffering humanity.

According to MALC’s official website, Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau was born on 9th September, 1929 in Leipzig Germany. The Second World War had ended, dividing East and West Germany. Consequently some 3 million people headed to West Germany for better opportunities likewise, Young Ruth had to illegally cross the demarcation line in pursuit of her dreams. Ruth realized her dream of becoming a medical doctor by studying medicine at the University of Mainz and Marburg in the 1950’s. Later, she joined the Catholic order of Daughters of the Heart of Mary and was sent to India on a mission. During her short stay in Karachi, she witnessed the terrible condition of lepers and decided to stay and look after the patients. Dr. Ruth in 1961 went to India and received training in leprosy management and returned to Karachi with a vision to eradicate this sickness. In 1965, Dr. Ruth collaborated with Dr. Fazelbhoy to set up a training program for paramedical workers. By 1971, Dr. Ruth along with the provincial governments managed to complete a network of treatment and control units in places affected by leprosy such as Baluchistan, Sindh, NWFP and Azad Kashmir. Dr. Ruth traveled extensively across Pakistan to provide help and healing to the victims of leprosy. Due to her relentless efforts she was appointed Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in 1979. In recognition of her tremendous work, the Government of Pakistan awarded her the Hilal-e Imtiaz in 1979 and with Hilal-e-Pakistan in 1989. It was due to her untiring efforts that the World Health Organization in 1996 declared Pakistan to be the first South Asian State to have controlled leprosy. Dr. Ruth had authored four books describing her work and experiences in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Dr. Ruth, owing to her unparalleled services for leprosy victims had been a recipient of many national and international awards. Dr. Ruth had been admitted to Agha Khan Hospital several days back owing to old age complications. Her condition became worse and she died on Thursday in Karachi at the age of 87 due to Kidney failure. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has announced a state funeral for Dr. Ruth. Her funeral mass will be held on Saturday, 19 August at St Patrick’s Cathedral where later her body will be buried in the Christian graveyard. Her death is mourned by her admirers across the globe.

Dr. Ruth had devoted 50 years of her precious life looking after leprosy patients in Pakistan. She sacrificed a lot and devoted her life to helping sick people in Pakistan, she even said once that “I could have left Pakistan, but I chose to stay”. Her words will never be forgotten. She was a light to Pakistan’s leprosy patients. Marie Adelaide Leprosy center initially founded in Karachi is now in all provinces with the inclusion of Gilgit – Baltistan. Dr. Ruth also rendered help to many flood victims in Sindh during the 2010 floods. Her extraordinary compassion for leprosy patients and genuine sincerity for mankind not only sets her apart but adds her name to the list of the greatest gems of present times. Her greatness will be remembered for decades to come and will always remain an inspiration to so many people.



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