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Monday 27 August 2018 8:26pm

An artist's impression of the University of Otago dental teaching facility and patient treatment clinic which will be built in South Auckland later this year.

A new Otago dental teaching facility to be built in South Auckland will help to meet high health needs while providing students with wide-ranging learning opportunities.

The University today announced its plans for the project, which will begin later this year.

The $28.2 million, two-storey, 32-chair building will be built upon land owned by the Counties Manukau District Health Board (DHB) at its Manukau Super Clinic on Great South Road.

The project is possible because of a much-valued relationship with the DHB, which led to the two institutions signing a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2014.

Division of Health Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Brunton says the project is a win-win situation for both the local community and the University.

"Patients are contributing to the education of the country's future dentists and, in exchange, they have access to high-quality dental care."

“Patients are contributing to the education of the country's future dentists and, in exchange, they have access to high-quality dental care.”

Working at this clinic will give students experience of providing dentistry to a community with very different needs than those in Dunedin, Professor Brunton says.

“This is an area with high dental need and the community is underserved with access to dental care.”

The Counties Manukau dental teaching facility and patient treatment clinic will follow the long-standing social contract model operated successfully in Dunedin, where patients receive treatment provided by students under supervision at a highly accessible cost, he says.

Forty-eight final-year Bachelor of Dental Surgery students will be assigned to the Counties Manukau facility at any one time.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says by making a real difference to people's lives and a community's health and wellbeing, the University will be living its strategic commitment to providing for the national good and improving lives.

Other benefits of the project include strengthening relationships and partnerships with Māori and Pacific communities based on mutually beneficial goals incorporating patient care, research and education, and providing increased opportunities for North Island based oral healthcare professionals to to access continuing education. The facility could help meet international demand for upskilling dentists as well, because Auckland is so accessible.

Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis says design work is already underway and work should start on the site later this year, with the aim of completing the project in 2020.

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