Teen peace activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head nearly a week ago in a targeted attack, was on Monday shifted to the U. K. for “prolonged care” that could involve repair/replacement of damaged bones of the skull and intensive neuro rehabilitation.
According to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), she was being shifted to a centre in the U.K. which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury. The decision was taken by a panel of Pakistani doctors and international experts who were of the opinion that Malala would require prolonged care to fully recover from the physical and psychological effects of the trauma that she has undergone.
Malala was flown out in the morning on a specially equipped air ambulance brought from the U.A.E. Speculation of the teen being sent overseas for treatment - under consideration from the very day she was shot - gained currency since Sunday afternoon after she was taken off the ventilator for a while.
A statement issued by the ISPR said: "It was the view [of the panel] that if Malala was going to be transferred overseas to a centre which could provide the required integrated care then it should be during this time window whilst her condition was optimal and before any unforeseen complications had set in.''
The statement also seeks to address whatever criticism there has been over the way her treatment has been carried out since the shooting on October 9. "The acute phase has been managed in accordance with international standards and the medical team is pleased with her condition which has been described as optimal. The view of the international experts was that the neurosurgery performed in Peshawar was exactly right and indeed saved her life. The decision to transfer her from Peshawar to the specialised paediatric intensive care unit at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) was correct and timely.''
From the day she was shot, an air ambulance of the Pakistan International Airways had been kept ready and waiting - first at Peshawar and then Rawalpindi -- to take her overseas. In fact, all arrangements had been made for shifting her the very night of the shooting - with instructions being issued by President Asif Ali Zardari himself - but she required an emergency surgery which was conducted at Peshawar's Combined Military Hospital (CMH) where she had been shifted to after initial treatment at Mingora.
From CMH she was later airlifted to AFIC and doctors had been waiting for her condition to stabilise for further action. Given her condition and to ensure that every medical attention can be provided to her on flight, a specially equipped air ambulance was requisitioned from the U.A. E. at Pakistan Government's expense.
Meanwhile, the conspiracy theorists - who have been questioning the attention that Malala has been receiving and accusing her of being a foreign agent - were quick to question the decision to shift her overseas for treatment. "Will Pakistan send any victim of a drone strike to the U.K. as well,'' said a tweet from one of the nay-sayers.