Driven by his father’s inability to go to the dentist, a Palestinian student has designed a dental unit from repurposed appliance parts.

The idea of inventing a mobile dental device occurred to Abdullah Al-Baba, a Palestinian engineering student, when he realised the suffering of his father, who uses a wheelchair, after he was shot and injured by Israeli regime forces in the Gaza Strip. The father was suffering from a toothache, but was struggling to reach the clinic, which was on the third floor.

“My father was injured. One day he had a toothache and had to go to the dentist. As you know, dentists in the Gaza Strip are on high floors. It was stressful and difficult for him to wheel himself up the stairs to get treatment. So, I thought, as medical equipment engineers, we have a social responsibility to provide solutions for these people,” says the young Palestinian.

Because of import restrictions due to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, Al-Baba had to reuse a refrigerator motor and a fire extinguisher to create the mobile unit. The device attaches to the wall and includes a water sprayer and a suction device. The 23-year-old says it could be useful for dentists visiting patients in rural areas.

Al-Baba is waiting for approval from the Palestinian Ministry of Health before he can manufacture the device on a larger scale. However, he stresses that it is difficult to find the necessary material because of the economic hardship in the area.

For more than 15 years, Gazans have suffered from an inhumane siege imposed by the Tel Aviv regime, which has severely restricted the purchase of goods and products, and increased poverty and unemployment. Direct and indirect losses from the blockade amounted to nearly $2 billion in 2021, according to official reports.