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Professor to launch dental clinic in Turkey to treat Syrian refugees

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Professor to launch dental clinic in Turkey to treat Syrian refugees
This is just one of the many stories about conditions in Syria told by Othman Shibly, DDS, MS, assistant professor in the Department of Periodontics and Endodontics at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.

According to recent news reports, when the United Nations withdrew its observers in Syria in June, deaths increased by 78 percent; in July they went up another 55 percent; and then up nearly 48 percent in August to more than 5,000. Deaths of Syrians are now in excess of 30,000 since the rebel uprising began in March 2011.

Syria was Shibly’s home country; it is where he still had family.

He wanted to contribute something meaningful to help those Syrians who had been displaced and injured and are now living in the Turkish refugee camps.

On June 29, he went to Turkey to attend an academic conference in Istanbul and during the second week of his visit he went to one of the camps — the Kilis Refugee Camp next to the Syrian Border in Gaziantep City in Turkey — and spent a week assessing the oral health needs of those who had escaped from the Assad regime. At the time, the camp had 11,000 people.

Shibly had anticipated a great deal of need but what he found shocked him.

“There were people with broken or infected teeth — this I expected. But that’s not all. There were people who had been injured by having soldiers push the end of a rifle into their teeth; people with broken jaws. People with injuries to the face. So many people. Some of these were children,” said Shibly.

Shibly knew that one visit wouldn’t be enough to address the all the problems. The camp needed a dental clinic with trained personnel to help with oral health and injuries every day.

Shibly said that when he returned to Buffalo, to UB, he put together a plan. First, he determined the costs needed to purchase enough dental equipment for two camps. It would take from $70,000 to $100,000 per camp.

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