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SFOR dentist treats locals

By Lt. Oystein Paulsen
First published in
SFOR Informer #70, 15 Sept, 1999.

Trnopolje - Every Tuesday morning, Capt. Saqib Siddiqui, a dental surgeon with the 4 (UK) Field Ambulance at Headquarters Multinational Division South West (MND-SW) in Banja Luka, takes his mobile dental clinic out in the field to help the locals.

"When I first came here, I wanted to do something for the people. But unfortunately the bombing started in Yugoslavia, and I had to cancel my plans. But in the beginning of July we got the plans up again, and now, every Tuesday, we are running a pain clinic in Trnopolje, a small village just south of Prijedor. The first week we had about 25 patients, but each week the number of patients are increasing. Out in the field like this things go a little bit slower than usual, because we have to translate everything we say. But we have a good interpreter, so there are actually no problems," said Capt. Siddiqui. His primary role is, off course, to look after the British troops in Banja Luka. Therefore it's impossible to do extensive treatment for the locals four-five days a week, because the primary service is to serve the troops. "But if we can do it one day a week, that helps them in many ways," Siddiqui added.

The dental clinic in Banja Luka is mobile, and meant for the field. "I use the same kit as I use in my office. We just pack it down and throw it in the back of the Landrover. And off we go. It only takes us about 15 minutes to set up the clinic out in the field, so it's quite easy. Technically I can do everything in the clinic. But here in Trnopolje all we are doing is a pain clinic, for the extraction of painful, badly broken or abscessed teeth that cannot be saved. If the tooth can be saved, I will advise the patient to go to the nearest local dentist for further treatment. Unfortunately it is not possible for me to provide treatment involving fillings and the repair of teeth, all I can do is to provide pain relief.

"Mrs. Radojka Kovacevic, a local villager, has used Capt. Siddiqui's pain clinic twice since it opened. She has only goodthings to say about the British Army dentist. "I have great confidence in his work. That is also why I come here to the SFOR dental clinic," she said.