UAE medical team flying Taliban-shooting victim Malala to UK
ABU DHABI // A UAE medical and air ambulance team took-off from Pakistan this morning flying Malala Yousafzai to the UK for specialist, long-term care.
Malala, 14, who was attacked on her school bus in the former Taliban stronghold of the Swat valley last Tuesday, was sent abroad at a time when her condition is "optimal and before any unforeseen complications set in", the military said.
The specialist air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates took off from Islamabad airport after daybreak, and Pakistan said an army intensive care specialist was accompanying her.
"Pakistan has arranged with the UAE for a specially equipped air ambulance to transfer Malala to the UK," it said in a statement.
UAE officials have been working closely with Pakistani authorities to arrange for the specialised care and Malala’s transfer has been coordinated closely between the two governments.
“The attempt on Malala’s life was not only an attack on a defenceless child, it was an attack on her and every girl’s right to a future unlimited by prejudice and oppression,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said last night.
“Her assailants must be universally denounced and brought to justice. Malala bravely confronted extremists in their attempts to ban girls from attending school. We must all stand with Malala in promoting tolerance and respect.”
Two Taliban gunmen shot Malala and two classmates on their school bus in the town of Mingora in the Swat Valley on October 9.
Doctors removed a bullet from her neck and she is on a ventilator in a military hospital.
Doctors have reduced Malala’s medication and she can move her legs and hands. They also yesterday removed her ventilator for a "successful" short trial.
The army said that a panel of Pakistani doctors and international experts now agreed that Malala needs "prolonged care to fully recover from the physical and psychological effects of trauma that she has received".
It is also expected that in due time damaged bones in her skull will need to be repaired or replaced, and that she will need "long-term rehabilitation, including intensive neuro-rehabilitation".
Pakistan has not disclosed the name or location of the centre where Malala will be treated, but said it had the "capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury".
Malala is an advocate for education and women’s rights who spoke out about the Taliban’s activities in the north-west Swat Valley.
* With additional reporting by the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse
Updated: October 15, 2012 04:00 AM