Funding to fluoridate water
‘‘Increasing access to fluoridated water will improve oral health’’
The Government has set aside $12m in funding, to help with the costs of fluoridation, following new legislation that places the power to put fluoride in town water supplies in the hands of District Health Boards.
Allocated for in the May Budget, the money provided four years of funding for the infrastructure needed to fluoridate more drinking water, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced.
‘‘While New Zealand’s oral health has improved dramatically over the last 30 years, we still have high rates of preventable tooth decay,’’ said Coleman.
‘‘Public drinking water currently supplies about 85 per cent of the population. Of those on public water supplies, 54 per cent receive fluoridated water.
‘‘Increasing access to fluoridated water will improve oral health and mean fewer costly trips to the dentist. We know that children have up to 40 per cent less tooth decay in fluoridated areas compared to areas without fluoride.’’
The law change was expected to benefit more than 1.4 million New Zealanders who lived in areas where networked community water supplies were not already fluoridated.
While DHBs would be able to direct a council to fluoridate, the cost would still be borne by the local authority. The legislation was before the house, awaiting its final two readings.