UB Professor to Treat Refugees in Lebanon This Holiday Season

Photo: Othman Shibly

Dentistry Today
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Photo: Othman Shibly

Othman Shibly, DDS, of the University at Buffalo (UB) is travelling to Lebanon to provide dental care to nearly 2,000 child refugees this holiday season.

Following the weeklong mission, his fifth trip this year to Lebanon and Kurdistan, Shibly will have treated more than 11,000 patients, nearly all women and children—a feat that takes the average dentist 10 years to accomplish.

Undeterred by the rising civil unrest in Lebanon, this marks the first year that Shibly will travel alone without volunteers from the United States or other nations.

“People’s needs don’t stop when there is unrest,” said Shibly, clinical professor and assistant dean for diversity and inclusion at the UB School of Dental Medicine.

“If we cannot recruit outside volunteers, we have to be creative. I contacted local organizations and arranged for more than 20 local dentists and volunteers,” said Shibly.

The mission will run from December 25 to December 30 in refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Shibly will perform treatments ranging from filling cavities to extractions.

Since 2012, Shibly has helped open and support more than 20 dental clinics for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Kurdish region of Iraq.

Through the UB Miles for Smiles program, with support from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, Colgate-Palmolive, and the Syrian American Medical Society, Shibly has created dental clinics in these countries, founded schools, and developed housing programs.

Shibly also has formed a community healthcare worker training program in Lebanon to carry on his work while he is away. The program has hired six full-time healthcare workers from refugee communities.

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