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Dr. Ruth Pfau

Dr. Ruth Pfau




Dr. Ruth Pfau, born on September 9, 1929, in Leipzig, Germany, was a German-born Pakistani physician and nun renowned for her lifelong dedication to eradicating leprosy in Pakistan. Her early life was marked by the turmoil of World War II, which deeply influenced her humanitarian pursuits. After the war, she studied medicine at the University of Mainz, where she became a doctor.

In 1957, Pfau joined the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, a Catholic order, and initially went to India. However, a stopover in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1960 became a turning point in her life. Witnessing the plight of leprosy patients, she decided to stay and combat the disease. She joined the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC), Pakistan's first such institution, and played a pivotal role in its expansion and success.

Under her leadership, the MALC grew from a small clinic into a nationwide network of over 150 centers, providing treatment and rehabilitation for leprosy patients and later expanding services to tuberculosis and blindness control. Her efforts led to Pakistan becoming one of the first Asian countries to control leprosy in the 1990s, earning international acclaim.

Dr. Pfau's work was recognized with numerous awards, including the Hilal-i-Pakistan, the country’s second-highest civilian award, and the prestigious Nishan-e-Quaid-i-Azam. She became a Pakistani citizen in 1988, cementing her deep bond with the country she served.

She authored several books and articles about her experiences and the challenges of battling leprosy. Her writings reflect her deep empathy, resilience, and unwavering commitment to humanitarianism.

Dr. Ruth Pfau passed away on August 10, 2017, in Karachi, leaving behind a legacy of compassion and service. Her contributions significantly improved the lives of countless individuals affected by leprosy and other diseases, earning her the title "Mother Teresa of Pakistan."

Her life's work continues to inspire many in the fields of medicine and humanitarian aid, demonstrating the profound impact of dedication and selflessness in the fight against disease and social stigma.


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Place of Birth: Leipzig, Weimar Republic



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Date of Birth: September 9, 1929

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