Global Health Nexus, Summer 2001

Sierra Leone War Victims Aided By NYU Dentistry

Five men from Sierra Leone who were mutilated in the civil war raging in their homeland received urgently needed dental care at NYU Dentistry in January. The men are among an estimated 20,000 people in the small West African country who have suffered the loss of limbs in this war.

The five, who ranged in age from 18 to 46, were brought to Brooklyn by a private foundation for three months of medical treatment and to be fitted with artificial limbs at Long Island College Hospital, which provided free medical treatment and physical therapy. Their dental needs were brought to NYU Dentistry’s attention by staff at a Brooklyn YMCA, where they were staying.

In much of Sierra Leone, as in many poor, rural areas of the world, there is a lack of any type of dental care. As a result, the men now had usable hands, but were suffering from uncontrolled dental disease, and had lost many teeth. At NYU Dentistry, they received treatment ranging from fillings and extractions to root canals and dentures. When the New York Times covered this story, the dental care provided by NYU was highlighted.

“We are very much happy to be here,” said one of the men, Lamin Jusu Jarka, a father of seven whose hands were severed nearly two years ago when he tried to save his 14-year-old daughter from being abducted by rebels. “We bless the people of America.”