Why Malala Yousafzai is flying to Britain for NHS treatment

Birmingham hospital chosen for expertise in military injuries - and US transfer was politically difficult

BY Tim Edwards LAST UPDATED AT 13:21 ON Mon 15 Oct 2012

MALALA YOUSAFZAI, the Pakistani schoolgirl seriously wounded in an assassination attempt by the Taliban last week, is being flown today to an NHS hospital in Birmingham for further treatment.

Malala, who was shot in the head by gunmen from Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in retaliation for her outspoken views on female education, was initially treated by at a Pakistani military hospital in Rawalpindi.
 
According to Channel 4 News, there have been optimistic reports of Malala’s progress over the weekend. Pakistani newspapers quoted a military spokesman saying Malala was making "slow and steady progress". He said she had been taken off the ventilator for a "short period on Sunday" and was "moving her fingers and toes".

However, a non-military source said the 14-year-old had "a very limited chance of life left".

The next stage of Malala’s treatment will now be carried out at the New Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, which, The Daily Telegraph reports, has a trauma ward to cater for British personnel wounded in Afghanistan. Malala will likely need damaged bones in her skull to be repaired or replaced as well as long-term rehabilitation.
 
The Pakistani military said: "The acute phase has been managed in accordance with international standards and the medical team is pleased with her present condition which has been described as optimal... The panel of doctors recommended that Malala be shifted abroad to a UK centre which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury.

"Pakistan has arranged with the UAE [United Arab Emirates] 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.

"All expenses including transportation of Malala by specially equipped air ambulance and treatment abroad will be borne by the government of Pakistan."

Channel 4 News reports that Britain was not the only country to offer to treat Malala. "The politics of accepting an offer from an American hospital made such a decision difficult. However, Pakistan and the UK enjoy what is considered to be a good relationship." The two countries are also closer geographically, which means less flying time and a reduction in the risks associated with transferring Malala by air. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.