Water supplies in Canterbury could be fluoridated by 2018.
The government is planning to introduce a new legislation that gives DHBs the power to make the decision.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne have recently announced proposed changes where it’s the DHBs–rather than local authorities–will be the ones to decide which community will get water flouridation.
PHA Chief Executive Warren Lindberg was quoted in a press release by the Public Health Association as saying: “Local councils have been under considerable pressure from vocal minority groups opposed to fluoridation, and that pressure will now fall on DHBs.”
“The new process will provide the opportunity to increase the numbers of New Zealanders who have access to fluoridated water and its significant health benefits. This could mean fewer days lost at school or work and reduced pain and suffering,” he added.
Mr Lindberg said that the legislation being drafted by the government must be clear about the DHB’s responsibility under the Health and Disability Services Act 2000. This, according to the press release, is “to improve, promote and protect health and address unequal health outcomes.”
Ron Dunham, Lakes DHB head and DHB chief executives group chair, welcomed the announcement, saying that DHBs would focus on communities that do not yet have water flouridation. “If there are areas that aren’t fluoridated, that individual DHB needs to have a look at their policies,” he explained.
“Take my district health board for instance; one of my councils has already fluoridated, one hasn’t.”
Hawke’s Bay DHB clinical director for oral health Dr Robin Whyman said that the DHB has a strong policy, but they would have to undergo a number of steps before they make a decision.