DHBs to de­cide on adding flu­o­ride

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - STACEY KIRK

The Govern­ment has moved to trans­fer the de­ci­sion-mak­ing power over flu­o­ri­da­tion of re­gional wa­ter sup­plies to district health boards.

New leg­is­la­tion has been put be­fore Par­lia­ment to re­move the au­thor­ity from district coun­cils, which could come un­der in­tense pres­sure from op­po­si­tion groups against flu­o­ri­da­tion.

It was a health is­sue, and so was best de­cided by DHBs, said Health Min­is­ter Jonathan Cole­man.

One­hunga and Huia Vil­lage are the only Auck­land metropoli­tan ar­eas where flu­o­ride is not added to drink­ing wa­ter.

If the leg­is­la­tion was to pass, it would mean the de­ci­sion would be left up to Auck­land District Health Board.

How­ever, a spokesper­son for the DHB said it was too early to com­ment whether or not One­hunga and Huia Vil­lage’s wa­ter sup­ply would have flu­o­ride added.

Cole­man and As­so­ciate Health Min­is­ter Peter Dunne an­nounced the leg­is­la­tion on Novem­ber 17, say­ing New Zealand had high rates of pre­ventable tooth de­cay.

‘‘In­creas­ing access to flu­o­ri­dated wa­ter will im­prove oral health and mean fewer costly trips to the den­tist,’’ said Cole­man.

‘‘We know that chil­dren have up to 40 per cent less tooth de­cay in flu­o­ri­dated ar­eas com­pared to ar­eas with­out flu­o­ride.

‘‘This change would benefit over 1.4 mil­lion New Zealan­ders who live in ar­eas where net­worked com­mu­nity wa­ter sup­plies are not cur­rently flu­o­ri­dated.’’

Dunne said DHBs had access to the best data, to make a more in­formed de­ci­sion.

‘‘Recog­ni­tion that flu­o­ri­dat­ing wa­ter is the sin­gle-most im­por­tant ini­tia­tive to im­prove den­tal health, par­tic­u­larly child den­tal health, is long over­due and I’m sure this move will be wel­comed by the wider com­mu­nity,’’ he said.

Re­cent Min­istry of Health fig­ures show the rate of hospi­tal­i­sa­tion for den­tal caries, or ba­sic tooth de­cay, in un­der 19-year-olds had in­creased 13 per cent over the six years to June 30, 2014.

The leg­is­la­tion would be open for sub­mis­sions once it reached select com­mit­tee. Once passed, DHBs would have the power to make de­ci­sions from 2018.

MAR­JORIE COOK

DHBs could have the power to de­cide whether flu­o­ride is added to wa­ter sup­plies if leg­is­la­tion is passed.

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