Health officials to discuss fluoridation of water
08 June 2004
Health officials are poised to take a major step to fluoridate Northland's water supplies.
At its monthly meeting today the Northland District Health Board (DHB) is to discuss a submission from its oral health promotion worker Sunitha Gowda that the DHB adopt a position statement on fluoridation.
The DHB's oral health team within its Community, Dental and Public Health Services has worked for some time on developing a fluoridation position statement for the organisation.
The submission to the board from the team said that it was well known that fluoridation of water supplies had beneficial effects on oral health and was one of the most recognised, cost-effective, practical and safe means for reducing and controlling the occurrence of dental decay for communities of more than 1000 people.
Northland children have the worst rates of tooth decay in the country and no public water supplies in Northland are fluoridated.
The Ministry of Health has said it would fund fully the capital costs of fluoridating public water supplies.
If adopted the DHB statement will say that Northland Health "states that appropriate water fluoridation, through its beneficial effects on oral health, has an important, positive impact on the general health and well-being of the communities throughout Northland."
The statement will also say that the DHB recognises that water fluoridation is the most cost effective, practical and safe means for reducing and controlling the occurrence of dental decay for communities of more than 1000 people.
Under the statement the DHB will also work with communities, tangata whenua and local authorities to have public water supplies fluoridated.
The DHB will also support research into the risks and benefits of water fluoridation, and into appropriate alternatives to fluoridation in communities where it was not feasible.
Earlier this year the Far North District Council polled its 25,000 ratepayers on whether they wanted the district's eight public water supplies fluoridated.
However, of the 309 submissions received on fluoridation, 210 (68 per cent) were opposed to adding the chemical to the district's public water supplies. In 2002 more than 60 per cent of respondents to a Whangarei District Council poll rejected water fluoridation.
A total of 11,319 (62.4 per cent) voted against it, while 6833 (37.6 per cent) wanted fluoridation.