The Waikato District Health Board says its staff won’t be fronting up to a public meeting on fluoridating Hamilton’s water supply because of ongoing personal attacks.
But a lobby group opposing fluoridation says the outcry over the personal attacks smack of hypocrisy because the Hawke’s Bay DHB chief executive attacked anti-fluoride signs at a similar recent meeting in Havelock North.
Waikato DHB chief executive Craig Climo says none of his staff will be at a Hamilton City Council-organised public meeting about fluoridation at the end of this month.
“My team are the subject of ongoing personal attacks from the anti-fluoridationists and I won’t expose them further,” he said.
The council voted to remove fluoride from the water supply in June this year, provoking objection from dentists, other health professionals, scientists and the DHB.
A referendum on pitting fluoride back to the public water supply is being held at the upcoming local elections.
But Fluoride Action Network member Mary Byrne says the DHB’s refusal to put staff in front of the public means people will not be able to ask them questions.
She said DHBs were painting the anti-fluoride movement as nutters but there was no action taken against Hawke’s Bay DHB chief executive Kevin Snee, when last week he tried to destroy anti-fluoride placards at a meeting at the Havelock North Community Centre.
Dr Snee was unapologetic about it, telling Hawke’s Bay Today, which witnessed the incident, the signs had no right to be there and he was trying to fold them into a pile.
Ms Byrne told NZ Newswire it was outrageous that Dr Snee was able to get away with vandalism, yet the Waikato DHB was making “unsubstantiated claims” about the anti-fluoride movement.
Waikato DHB population health medical officer of health Felicity Dumble says past experience shoes such meetings are disrupted by those opposed and are “an unpleasant experience for the health professionals who attend trying to get the science across to an audience who have fixed opinions based on misinformation”.
“We’re well past arguing about the science and the reality is fluoride has been in Hamilton’s water supply for nearly 50 years with the only health effect being less tooth decay.”
Dr Dumble the initial public consultation through a tribunal, rather than a referendum, distorted the balance of opinion on the matter.
“A small vocal minority is given the same weight as the vast majority of dentists, doctors and scientists regarding the issues of oral health, medicine and the science,” she said.