A Norfolk dentist has been detailing his charitable efforts as part of his latest global healthcare mission.
Gautam Sharma has returned to the region this week, following an exceptionally busy five-day trip, in which he and his team treated some 1,500 displaced refugees in Lebanon.
Dr Sharma, who runs West Earlham Dental Practice, is a trustee of the Dental Mavericks Charity, and formed part of an international contingent of 50 dentists, healthcare assistants, translators and cultural advisors who spent five days assisting Syrian families.
Thanks to the generosity of people in East Anglia, he was able to take with him a haul of gifts and supplies, amounting to more than 20 kilos in weight.
He said: “This was my second trip to the region, so I had some idea of what to expect this time, but even so, I don’t think I was quite prepared for the relentless pace of the number of patients coming through to be seen.
“We started early each morning and finished late into the evening, every day treating close to 300 Syrian and Lebanese children.”
Dental hygiene is one of the many areas which is neglected among the displaced families in the communities visited by Dr Sharma and the charitable team.It makes his experience and professional skill all the more important, to help prevent further medical problems – particularly for those who are in their earliest years of life.
“I was heartened to see that we were making less extractions than on our previous visit, but still the need is high, and we were welcomed with open arms and treated with huge gratitude by every single patient,” he added.
“The fact that we arrived with an additional amount of gifts and supplies – thanks to the people of Norfolk – was a huge bonus.
“I’m extremely grateful to my practice patients, and to others throughout the community, who went out of their way to leave a toy or an item of practical use, at our drop-off in the weeks before my trip and those who contributed to the just giving funding pages.”
Dr Sharma’s work in the displaced communities, and his commitment to the charity missions, has been noted by other organisations globally. He is currently being considered for a role on a project in South America.
“I’m enormously proud that my work and passion for helping is being acknowledged, but first and foremost, I’m a Norfolk dentist with a desire to ensure that the families living and working in my local community are receiving good dental care when they need it – and are educated in preventative toothcare,” he insisted.
“Every time I step off the plane, and return home to East Anglia, I’m reminded how fortunate we are to have access to healthcare and dental support the way we do in this country.”
Dr Sharma’s West Earlham practice will soon be staging a ‘relaunch’ event, following a makeover at the long-established clinic. In the meantime, he is looking forward to sharing his story with more schools and community groups in the region.
To contact Gautam and hear more about how his work, and that of Dental Mavericks, is helping enhance the lives of Syrian refugees, email firstname.lastname@example.org.