Fluoride decisions to move to DHBs

Peter Dunne announced:

DHBs rather than local authorities will decide on which community water supplies are fluoridated under proposed changes announced today by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.

“New Zealand has high rates of preventable tooth decay and increasing access to fluoridated water will improve oral health, and mean fewer costly trips to the dentist for more New Zealanders,” says Dr Coleman.

“This change could benefit over 1.4 million New Zealanders who live in places where networked community water supplies are not currently fluoridated.

“Water fluoridation has been endorsed by the World Health Organization and other international health authorities as the most effective public health measure for the prevention of dental decay.”

DHBs currently provide expert advice on fluoridation to local authorities.

“Moving the decision-making process from local councils to DHBs is recognition that water fluoridation is a health-related issue,” says Mr Dunne.

“Deciding which water supplies should be fluoridated aligns closely to DHBs’ current responsibilities and expertise. It makes sense for DHBs to make fluoridation decisions for their communities based on local health priorities and by assessing health-related evidence.”

A Bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament later this year. Members of the public and organisations will have an opportunity to make submissions to the Health Select Committee as it considers the Bill.

This law change will be treated with massive cheers from every councillor in New Zealand, as they no longer will be on the receiving end of anti-fluoridation campaigns.

I’m not sure there is a strong case for having DHBs decide. Yes it is a health issue, but it is the Councils that run the water supply.

Once the law changes (assuming it does), I suspect this will mean every region of NZ will end up with fluoridated water. I can’t imagine one DHB deciding differently to all the others.

A downside is that you may get people stand for election to DHBs on this single issue. Sole issue politicians rarely do well.

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