For most of us, a trip to the dentist might mean a short drive or walk. We might start work a little late, or arrange our day to fit in with our appointment. Most of take our ease of access to the dentist for granted. However, miles away, one dentist is striving to bring dental care to those affected by the war in Syria, for whom access to the dentist is a lot more difficult. Working from a converted camper near the Turkish border, Muhannad Qabtur works tirelessly to provide routine check-ups and treatments to the thousands of displaced Syrians living near the border.
The war in Syria began in 2011, and since then millions of people have been killed, or have been forced to leave their homes in search of safety. Many have left the country, moving to areas where they can live, free from the daily threats that war brings. Mr Qabtur decided to stay. He now offers free treatments and check-ups to dozens of patients in the Azaz region every day. As well as supporting those in this area, he also travels around northern Aleppo, supporting patients there to maintain their oral health.
The Independent Doctors Association are an organisation who are working towards achieving a standard level of healthcare in the area. They provide a monthly fee to Mr Qabtur, which he uses to fund his work, rather than taking any money from his patients.
Inside Mr Qabtur’s mobile van, patients find a range of modern equipment and resources, much like they could expect to find in an ordinary dental practice. Supported by a dental assistant, Mr Qabtur generally sees around 20 patients a day, with many queueing up to register with the service.
When talking about his motivations for running his practice, Mr Qabtur acknowledges that he could have left the area, and moved to a safer and more comfortable life. However, he is clear that leaving wasn’t an option he had considered: ‘I could have emigrated and lived peacefully like other doctors, but I chose to stay, to live and to die by the side of my people, to live and die in my country.’ He continues to express his aim of treating people as best he can, with the resources and equipment he has at his disposal.
For more information about Mr Qabtur’s quest, visit the Daily Mail article.