A new two-story dental education facility and a $ 28.2 million treatment clinic are being built in South Auckland to help meet high health needs and educate students.
The 32-seat building will be a facility of the University of Otago, built on the grounds of the Manukau District Health Board districts at Super Clinic Manukau on Great South Road.
The facility has been welcomed by Minister of Health Dr. ir. David Clark.
"We know that there is a widespread unmet need for dental care among adults in New Zealand," Clark said.
"Need is greatest, and access to dental care is the worst, for Māori and Pasifika adults, and also for those living in the socio-economically disadvantaged areas."
The latest New Zealand Health Survey showed that only 48 percent of adults had visited a dentist in the past year and that only 34 percent of adults in the most deprived neighborhoods had visited a dentist, he said.
The professor at the University of Otago, Professor Harlene Hayne, said that it would make a real difference to people's lives and the health and well-being of the community.
The university was determined to help develop students into good citizens and this project would create a community-oriented experience that provides thought and service, Hayne said.
Not only will the dentistry faculty regularly consult the community to find out what it needs, the faculty will also offer a wide range of outreach activities, she said.
The vice-chancellor of the Health Sciences department, Professor Paul Brunton, called the clinic a win-win for both the local community and the university.
"Patients contribute to the training of future dentists in the country and in return have access to high-quality dental care."
The dental facility for dentistry and the treatment center of the districts of Manukau follow the long-standing social contract model that is successfully applied in Dunedin, where patients receive treatments offered by supervised students at a very low threshold, he said.
Thirty-eight last year bachelor's in dental surgery students would be assigned to the clinic at any time.
Brunton said the clinic was made possible because of a highly valued relationship with the health council of the district, which led the two institutions to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2014 to achieve mutual goals.
"The new facility not only offers students practical learning opportunities, but also increases their knowledge of people with a broad background," said Brunton.
Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis said that the design work was already underway and that the work should start on the site later this year, with the aim of completing the project in 2020.
Counties Manukau Health's Director of Hospital Services, Phillip Balmer said he welcomed the new facility as a positive step in addressing inequalities in the oral health of the population.
"We recognize that poor oral health causes poor overall health and we are always looking for service development initiatives to improve these indicators," Balmer said.
"There is a higher prevalence of tooth decay in the Māori and Pacific communities in Manukau counties and having a dental school in Manukau counties will make it much easier for our community to access the care they need.
"People can also take their own steps to improve oral health by reducing sugar intake as an individual and as a family, caring for their teeth by regularly brushing teeth and seeking dental care if there are problems."