|File picture of Malala
London, Oct. 15: Surgeons at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham tonight began the delicate task of assessing the bullet injuries suffered by the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to demand an education for herself and other schoolgirls like her.
Malala Yousafzai, who is still in a critical condition, arrived on board an air ambulance accompanied by a full medical team.
The hospital said: “She is currently stable and is being assessed by a team of multi-specialist doctors from the Queen Elizabeth and Birmingham Children’s hospitals. This team includes clinicians from neurosurgery, imaging, trauma and therapies.”
“She was accompanied by a full medical team,” a hospital spokesperson said. “Malala’s ongoing clinical care is now the hospital’s priority.”
Once she has recovered sufficiently, “she is expected to need treatment to repair or replace damaged bones in her skull and to undergo neurological treatment”.
The attempt to gun down Malala has caused outrage throughout the world but, most significantly, within Pakistan itself where the attack is seen by many as a turning point in the battle against the Pakistani Taliban.
Neurosurgeons at a military hospital in Rawalpindi have removed a bullet from Malala’s shattered skull, but say she needs expert and long-term care.
As Malala was flown out on an air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates, the Pakistani Army said in a statement: “Pakistan has arranged with the UAE for a specially equipped air ambulance which will be used to transfer Malala to the UK. In order to provide continuity of care, an army intensive care specialist will accompany Malala on her flight.”
It added: “All expenses including transportation of Malala by specially equipped air ambulance and treatment abroad will be borne by the government of Pakistan.”
A 10 Downing Street spokesperson said: “We offered last Thursday our help to the government of Pakistan in caring for her because she does need particular specialist care.”
It is unlikely that the Pakistan government will be sent a bill for Malala’s treatment. It is also highly unlikely Malala will ever return to Pakistan where the Taliban have threatened to have another go at killing her.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham told The Telegraph that it is “a dedicated major trauma centre delivering specialist care to people with major head injuries, severe knife or gunshot wounds, spinal injuries and amputations. Major trauma is defined as serious injuries which threaten life including: above the knee amputation; major head injuries; multiple injuries, both internal and external; spinal injury, which could lead to paralysis; severe knife and gunshot wounds.”
The hospital is also “host to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) and treats all seriously injured British military personnel evacuated from overseas”.
The hospital will not discuss whether Malala will be guarded but acknowledged that “certainly security has been taken into account”.
Foreign secretary William Hague spoke of the “public revulsion and condemnation of this cowardly attack” and said “the barbaric attack on Malala Yousafzai and her school friends shocked Pakistan and the world. Malala’s bravery in standing up for the right of all young girls in Pakistan to an education is an example to us all.”
The former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who is UN Special Envoy for Global Education, said he would be visiting Pakistan next month and would take up the cause of girls’ education with President Asif Ali Zardari .
“I know that Britain will offer Malala the best treatment possible and the British people will welcome her, hoping and praying for her recovery,” commented Brown.
He announced: “Today we are launching on www.educationenvoy.org a petition under the headline ‘I am Malala’ in support of what Malala fought for – that every girl has the chance to go to school. Today, sadly, 32 million girls are not going to school and it is time to fight harder for Malala’s dream to come true.”
He added: “Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban simply because as a girl she wanted to go to school.”