Providing essential care for refugee crisis

Irish clinicians travel to Calais to provide much-needed dental care for the residents of refugee camp

Three Irish dentists travelled to ‘The Jungle’ recently to provide essential dental care for the thousands of residents of the refugee camp in Calais.

Junaid Nayyar, a Dublin graduate who is currently an SHO in paediatric dentistry in Cork was joined by Cork (2009) graduates Faizan Zaheer, a GDP working in Cheshire, and Graham Quilligan, a registrar in restorative dentistry in Cork.

The three men provided emergency dental care over a busy weekend which was organised by the Refugee Crisis Foundation. And, while the conditions were very basic – the clinic consisted of a caravan and wooden shed – they managed to help a number of patients out of pain through extractions, as well as some fillings with temporary dressings and glass ionomer. They also offered oral hygiene advice and prescribed painkillers and antibiotics if clinically necessary.

Junaid said: “Being in a healthcare profession we try and do the best we can for our patients. The refugees in Calais are in need of basic dental treatment mostly to alleviate pain. While there is political and emotional unrest over how to manage the refugee crisis, there is no denying that being able to help another person who is in need feels right, is right, and is a human right. It is fulfilling and rewarding to be able to spend your time and skills without any expectation of a return.”

On the whole, while it was quite a sobering experience, Junaid felt it was a worthwhile one. He said: “The experience is far removed from routine dentistry. The camp conditions may take adjusting to for anyone that has not experienced something like this before. Overall there is a good atmosphere working there as the patients respond very positively to the volunteers and there is a good working relationship with any other volunteers also working there.”

For more information on the Refugee Crisis Foundation and volunteering opportunities, visit

Published: 14 June, 2016 at 11:16