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Farewell Ruth Pfau: Pakistan's Mother Teresa

Dr. Ruth was well known as the ‘Mother Teresa’ of Pakistan. The Lady belonged to Germany and spent her 50 years of life in Pakistan fighting against the Leprosy disease and eventually put an end to it in Pakistan. Dr Pfau observed leprosy in Pakistan for the first time in 1960 and returned to set up clinics across the country. Her hard works meant that in 1996 the disease was declared to have been brought under control.


A statement issued from his office said, “The entire nation is indebted to Ruth Pfau for her selfless and unmatched services for the eradication of leprosy. We are proud of her exemplary services and she will remain in our hearts as a shining symbol in times ahead.”

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said “Dr Pfau may have been born in Germany, but her heart was always in Pakistan”.

Dr. Ruth devoted more half part of her life in Pakistan. With her remarkable journey, Pakistan was rewarded as the first country from Asia to have control over Leprosy in 1996 by World Health Organization. “Every Patient is a life story, and we enjoyed helping them all”, she said in her presence at PACC at the Qissa Khwani Talk in 2014.

Highlights of Dr Ruth Pfau life story:

Dr. Ruth Pfau was born in Germany on September 9th, 1929 in Leipzig. In 1950s, she studied medicine in the University of Mainz and Marburg in West Germany. She was sent on a Mission Station to India but due to some problems of visa, she landed up in Karachi, Pakistan, where she was introduced to leprosy work. On her first visit to I.I Chundrigar to look after the Leprosy patients, she decided to help the effected Leprosy patients in Karachi.

In 1965, Dr. Ruth and Zarina Fazelbhoy (Pakistani Dermatologist) initiated the training program for paramedical workers. More in 1971, with the cooperation with provincial government, she did treatment of the Leprosy affected areas including Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Northern areas and Azad Kashmir to vanish the disease by travelling every corner of Pakistan.


Later, she became the Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Government of Pakistan in 1979. And by 1996, she was successful in controlling the Leprosy in Pakistan. Dr. Pfau’s extraordinary personality, served Pakistan in the best way, who was rewarded with many awards to remark her outstanding presence in Pakistan.

Awards list of Dr Ruth Pfau

  • In 1968, she was awarded the Order of the Cross from Germany.
  • In 1969, Awarded Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam by government of Pakistan.
  • In 1979, Hilal-e-Imtiaz by government of Pakistan.
  • In 1985, the Commanders Cross of the Order of Merit with Star from Germany.
  • In 1989, Hilal-e-Pakistan by government of Pakistan.
  • In 1991, Damien-Dutton Award from USA.
  • In 1991, Osterreischische Albert Schweitzer Gasellschaft from Austria.
  • In 2002, Ramon Magsaysay Award from Government of Philippines.
  • In 2003, the Jinnah Award from the Jinnah Society Pakistan.
  • In 2003, ‘In the Name of Allah’ award by Idara Wiqar-e-Adab Pakistan.
  • In 2004, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) from Aga Khan University.
  • In 2004, Life-time Achievement Award from the Rotary Club of Karachi.
  • In 2005, Marion Doenhoff-Prize, Germany.
  • In 2006, Life-time Achievement award from the President of Pakistan.
  • Woman of the Year 2006 Award by CityFM89.
  • In 2006, Certificate of Appreciation from the Ministry of Health.
  • In 2009, Nesvita Women of Strength Awards by TVONE.
  • In 2009, Life-time Achievement Khidmat Award by Al-Fikar International.
  • In 2011, Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the International Schools Educational Olympiad, organized by Karachi High School.
  • In 2011, LADIESFUND Woman of the Year Award.
  • In 2011"Nishan-i-Quaid-e-Azam" award presented by the President of Pakistan.