TDHB hails decision to fluoridate

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012

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A war of words has broken out between health authorities and anti-fluoride campaigners over the decision to introduce the chemical in Waverley and Patea's water supply.

The Taranaki District Health Board says the South Taranaki District Council is a vital link in the effort to stop poor oral hygiene.

However, those opposed to the contentious practice call it a betrayal of science and the community.

On Monday, the council voted 10-3 to put the chemical in the town's water supply, opting to vote with the weight of medical evidence.

The council received 508 submissions on the issue. A total of 345 didn't want it introduced, and 163 were for the idea.

TDHB dental clinical leader David Antunovic said it was a "courageous" decision and the community would benefit from it for years to come.

"It is gratifying that the council has chosen to take the advice of health professionals and experts in this field," he said.

"There is unequivocal evidence that adding fluoridation to water is the safest and most effective way to protect and improve the dental health of the whole community, irrespective of their income, status or age.

"I'd like to congratulate the councillors on their intelligent and courageous decision."

The TDHB used a near identical presentation to that presented to the New Plymouth District Council who voted to take fluoride out of their water last year.

Medical officer of health Greg Simmons said after being surprised by the NPDC's decision they "were motivated to submit" this time round.

"The scope of evidence was very similar to that presented to the New Plymouth District Council."

Anti-fluoride campaigner Mark Atkin expressed his frustration and dismay at the move. "Those councillors who voted for fluoridation on Monday should not only be ashamed of their betrayal of the people of Patea and Waverley, they should be held criminally liable for the harm, and in some cases death, they will cause."

Most councillors had been "captured by the pseudoscience and pompous self-proclaimed authority of fluoridation promoters".

"I would suggest that few if any of the local GPs and dentists who submitted strongly in support of fluoridating the water supply have read a single scientific study on the issue," he said.

"They just parrot what they were taught at dental or medical school, or provided by the DHB."

Letters: Page 10

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