Sindh’s chief minister on Thursday congratulated the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) and the provincial health department for successfully controlling leprosy in Pakistan by 1996.
CM Syed Murad Ali Shah said the Leprosy Control Programme had started in the 1960s as a joint venture between the health department and the MALC.
In 1996 they made Pakistan the first country in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Eastern Mediterranean Region Office where leprosy had been controlled well ahead of the international organisation’s target of the year 2000, he added.
Addressing an event in connection with 70th World Leprosy Day organised by the MALC at a hotel in Karachi, Shah congratulated their incredible accomplishment in creating such an exemplary model of long association and collaborative efforts towards leprosy control in Pakistan.
The event was attended by MALC CEO Mervyn Lobo, German Ambassador Alfred Grannas, German Consul General Dr Rudiger Lotz, Parliamentary Secretary Health Qasim Soomro, CM’s Special Assistant Sadiq Memon, Health Secretary Zulfiqar Shah and many others.
“It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to be here on this auspicious occasion of 70th World Leprosy Day,” said the chief executive on the occasion.
He said World Leprosy Day gives us an opportunity to acknowledge the people who have experienced leprosy, raise awareness of the disease, call for an end to the stigma attached to it, and at the same time express gratitude for the commitment of millions of workers, professionals and donors, including the WHO, in fighting the battle against it.
He added that since Sindh is a highly leprosy-burdened area, it would be the prime time to “act now and end leprosy”, which is the theme for this year.
Recalling Dr Ruth KM Pfau, the CM said she was a true inspiration to everyone who knew her, adding that she devoted her whole life to our country, especially to the poor people affected by leprosy.
“Her tremendous efforts can’t be put into words. Her death was a great loss not only for Pakistan but for the whole world as well because she was a symbol of humanity and harmony between people of different religions.”
He said that to keep her legacy alive, her team has been working with high spirits, venturing out into different disciplines such as tuberculosis, community-based inclusive development, eye care and mother & child healthcare. He thanked the people of Germany for generously supporting a humanitarian cause for over six decades. “It’s true that Pakistan and Germany share deep ties and rich history.”
Shah said the German ambassador has shown how much he feels for the leprosy programme and Pakistan’s people. He also thanked Dr Saunderson and Dr Fastinau for coming to Pakistan to support our national programme to keep up with international standards.
The CM said his government is continuously engaged in developing and strengthening the healthcare structure in the country. He added that Pakistan has been facing many health challenges, TB being one of the top diseases.
“I am pleased to know that the MALC is also partnering in the provincial TB programme, and I am fully confident that like leprosy, TB will also be controlled soon in the country.”
A short documentary, with Abida Parveen singing ‘Dhoondo Gay Agar Mulkon Mulkon’ in the background, was also screened to pay tribute to Dr Ruth, who devoted her life to the treatment of the poor people affected by leprosy. In the documentary, her services were acknowledged through a series of photographs that had been taken from the time she started her services in Karachi to her funeral and burial.
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