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Havelian Story

November 17, 2012

Dr Sadia Malik

Dr Sadia Malik, a feisty Birmingham obstetrician, is returning to Havelian in NW Pakistan.  Ammalife’s man on the ground says the people have fond memories of her – the local buses still pull up at the “Dr Sadia stop’. Here’s why.

In 2000 Sadia was in the clinic (her toddler with her) when a distraught woman clutching a dead infant came in. The child had developmental abnormalities and had died soon after birth. There was a commotion outside. Armed men from the woman’s village had come to kill her as a witch who had given birth to a ‘monster’ child. The clinic workers urged Sadia to leave. The woman was weeping behind her, armed men in front, her terrified daughter holding tight.  But Sadia stood her ground and ordered the men to put their guns down. If they want to kill the ‘witch’, they’ll have to kill her first. To her astonishment, they did as she told them!

And then, in Sadia’s own words, ‘ I gave them my neural tube defects lecture’. She asked the clinic worker to get a year’s supply of folic acid from the pharmacy. She told the men – and the now slightly less terrified woman – that she must take one tablet every day and next year she would have a healthy child.

‘But you might be wrong and where will we find you next year’, remonstrated one of the men.

‘I’ll still be here,’ she answered.

And so, 18 months later, the same woman came back with a healthy newborn son to seek out Dr Sadia. Soon after bags of corn started to arrive from the men who wanted to show their thanks.

Years later Sadia met up with Arri Coomarasamy who had just started Ammalife, and the Havelian project was born.

Sadia will be blogging news of her trip. Follow and support her here.

Jim Thornton

2 Comments leave one →
  1. sally permalink
    December 9, 2012 4:18 pm

    great work..fascinated by the courage of this doctor

  2. October 6, 2013 10:08 am

    Thank you Professor Thornton for your support. The Havelian project has successfully transported many women with life threatening complications of pregnancy and childbirth. We have touched 85 villages in the most far off mountains and have raised awareness in the local community about importance of early transport in labour.
    I have recently visited Havelian and my interviews with the women will soon be uploaded on

    We request your continued support.

    Warm regards

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