She was 87, Turkey's Anadolu Agency (AA) reported. The Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre founder died due to kidney failure at the Aga Khan University Hospital on Thursday. "She inspired and mobilized all sections of society to join the fight against leprosy, irrespective of creed or ethnic identity", Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, president of Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference, told Catholic News Service Aug. 11. She was the one who touched those who were believed to be untouchable.
Pakistan has been home to the gems like Dr Ruth Pfau and Abdul Sattar Edhi who dedicated their lives for the welfare of the people of Pakistan.
As a young physician and nun, she had planned to begin her missionary work not in Pakistan, but in India, in 1960. "He must have been my age, I was at this time not yet 30, and he crawled on hands and feet into this dispensary, acting as if this was quite normal, as if someone has to crawl there through that slime and dirt on hands and feet, like a dog". Since 1996, the World Health Organization has considered the disease controlled in Pakistan. "Leprosy elimination is successfully being achieved; however, elimination is not the end of leprosy", said Pfau at the time.
The Express Tribune of Pakistan once credited Dr. Pfau with having "single-handedly ... turned the tide of leprosy in Pakistan and won the gratitude and personal attentions of people ranging from military rulers to elected ministers to the general public". Last year, the number of patients under treatment for leprosy in Pakistan fell to 531, down from 19,398 in the 1980s, according to the Karachi daily Dawn. And even after that, those disfigured by the disease would still need help overcoming the physical disabilities caused by the disease and the social stigma associated with it. Her death is indeed a great loss for the entire nation. "We are like a Pakistani marriage". "It was an arranged marriage because it was necessary". But we never could go in for divorce because we had too many children.
The government of Pakistan will accord a state funeral to Sister Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau, a German-born member of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary who devoted her life to eradicating leprosy in Pakistan.
Indeed, like Mother Teresa, Dr. Ruth Pfau helped and supported the unloved and uncared people with sheer dignity.
"We are happy that the government is according her a state funeral on August 19", the archbishop said, noting it would be at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi. "We will remember her for her courage, her loyalty, her service to the eradication of leprosy, and most of all, her patriotism". She said she almost married a fellow student before experiencing what she described as a calling from God.