Fluoride decisions at national level

Water New Zealand says the Government’s new bill giving District Health Boards the responsibility of managing the fluoridation of local public water supplies is a good move but the legislation could go further.

Water NZ chief executive John Pfahlert says fluoride is a public health issue and therefore DHBs, and not local councils, should make decisions around its inclusion in drinking water.

However, John says he’d like to see national policy as well as funding for fluoride in public water supplies, rather than separate decisions by each DHB, as is currently proposed by the legislation.

“Fluoride offers significant benefits for dental health for the entire population but particularly for children and those who are most economically deprived. Therefore, it makes sense that the decision to add fluoride to water should be made at a national level.”

“The Government needs to have the confidence to stand up against the small but vocal minority who have been waging a campaign against fluoride at both local and national level.”

A study presented at the Water NZ Annual Conference this year estimated during more than a 20-year period fluoridation in water saves $1.4-billion from both reduced dental costs for adults as well as significant savings from the health budget for reduced dental care costs for children.

The report found investment in fluoride saved $9 for every dollar invested.

“Fluoride has proven to be safe, effective and economical, yet only 56 per cent of people on public water supplies receive fluoridated water.

“I look forward to seeing the legislation proceed through Parliament,” says John.

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