Dr. Ruth Pfau’s Profile

Dr. Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau was born on September 9, 1929
in Leipzig, Germany.

She grew up seeing the horrors of the Second World War (1939-1945) during which her city was bombed and her home destroyed. When the war ended, millions of people had been killed or went missing. Her country, in a state of ruins was finally divided into East Germany and West Germany.

In 1948 she had to cross the demarcation line illegally from East Germany (then under Russian occupation) to West Germany to pursue her education as a medical student.

In the 1950s she studied medicine at the universities of Mainz and Marburg in West Germany.

After her graduation she joined the catholic order of the ‘Daughters of the Heart of Mary’.

She left her native country Germany and stopped in Karachi on her way to India on 8th March 1960. She was being sent to a Mission Station in India by her Congregation but due to some visa problems she broke journey in Karachi and here she was introduced to the leprosy work. On her first visit to the Leprosy patient’s colony at McLeod Road (now I. I. Chundrigar Road) she got so depressed with the situation that she resolved on the spot to join the group and help the affected Leprosy patients.

In 1961 she went to Vellore, South India to acquire training in the management of Leprosy. She then returned to Karachi to organize and expand the Leprosy Control Programme.

In 1965, she and Dr. Zarina Fazelbhoy, a Pakistani dermatologist initiated the training programme for paramedical workers.

1971, she had, in cooperation with the Provincial Governments, completed the network of treatment and control units in the Leprosy affected Provinces (Balochistan, Sindh, NWFP), Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir, traveling to every nook and corner of the country.

1979, she was appointed Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Pakistan.

In 1996, she managed to control Leprosy in the country.

In 2006, she gave over to her successor, the Chief Executive Officer of MALC.

She has authored four books in German about her work in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan, where she first went in 1984. One of these books, ‘To Light a Candle’ was translated into English in 1987.

Awards Achieved :

1968: The Order of the Cross from Germany.

1969: Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam from Government of Pakistan

1979: Hilal-e-Imtiaz from Government of Pakistan

1985: The Commanders Cross of the Order of Merit with Star from Germany

1989: Hilal-e-Pakistan from Government of Pakistan

1991: Damien-Dutton Award from USA

1991: Osterreischische Albert Schweitzer Gasellschaft from Austria

2002: Ramon Magsaysay Award from Government of Philippines

2003: The Jinnah Award from the Jinnah Society Pakistan

2003: In The Name of Allah Award by Idara Wiqar-e-Adab Pakistan

2004: Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) from Aga Khan University

2004: Life-time Achievement Award from the Rotary Club of Karachi

2005: Marion Doenhoff-Prize, Germany

2006: Life-time Achievement Award from the President of Pakistan

2006: Woman of the Year 2006 Award by CityFM89

2006: Certificate of Appreciation from the Ministry of Health

2009: Nesvita Women of Strength Awards by TVONE

2009: Life-time Achievement Khidmat Award by Al-Fikar International.

On 8th March 2010 she completed her 50 years in Pakistan. Her dedicated services and commitment to eradicate Leprosy and uplift of Marginalized groups in Pakistan gratefully acknowledged and honoured by both her national and international friends and by patients and staff at MALC.

19th February 2010 – The Hamdard University Karachi organized a grand function in honor of Dr. Pfau at their University Campus which attended by renowned celebrities.

6th March 2010 – The Consulate General of Germany in Karachi organized a music concert by Carolina Eyck and her ensemble in honour of Dr. Ruth Pfau at his residence.

7th March 2010 – Patients and Staff celebrated an evening with Dr. Pfau

8th March 2010 – Supporters and well wishers celebrated the day with Dr. Pfau

10th March 2010 – The Health Minister Sindh hosted a lunch and presented a shield

19th February 2010 – Hamdard University (Madinat-al-Hikmah) to acknowledge her lifetime selfless services to the people of Pakistan.

11th March, 2010 – Shield presented by Dr. Saghir Ahmed, Minister Health, Government of Sindh for completion of 50 years of Selfless and Meritorius Service for the Patients of Leprosy.

12th March, 2010 – Shield presented by Staff & Students of Happy Home School in appreciation of 50 years of meritorius services for the Eradication of Leprosy in Pakistan.

12th March, 2010 – Shield presented by Dawood Capital Management Limited on winning the LADIESFUND Woman of the Year Award.

2nd February, 2011 – Lifetime Achievement Award 2011 presented by the International Schools Educational Olympiad, orgaised by Karachi High School.

12th February, 2011 – LADIESFUND woman of the Year Award.

23rd March, 2011 – “Nishan-i-Quaid-i-Azam” Award presented by the President of Pakistan.

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