Letters to Bay councils supports treatment for public water supplies.
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board [DHB] chairman Kevin Atkinson believes the DHB should advise local councils on the matter of public fluoridation, not the community.
The DHB is this week sending letters to councils in Napier, Hastings, Wairoa, Central Hawke’s Bay and the Chatham Islands forwarding its recommendation that public water supplies should be fluoridated to improve dental health.
Mr Atkinson said councils were the ultimate authorities to decide whether or not water should be fluoridated, but said “we strongly believe that if the council need to refer to someone, they should refer to the DHB rather than [through] public referendum”.
The issue was particularly heated in Hastings where anti-fluoride protesters have called for the council to stop fluoridating the water supply. They claimed fluoride was a toxin that had negative health consequences and debated the ethics of mass medication.
Last year Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule made it clear he believed fluoride should be an issue decided by referendum.
In June the Hastings District Council voted not to take the issue to referendum with a majority of seven votes to six.
Six months later Mr Yule promised to take the issue back to the council.
Mr Yule said yesterday his opinion remained unchanged.
“The fluoride issue is one which the community must be fully involved in and the decision should rest with the community.”
Mr Yule said he would consider the DHB’s stance after he received its letter to see if there was “common ground”.
Anti-fluoride advocate Angela Hair agreed fluoridation was a public matter. “It comes down to being a public matter because we have to give permission to take a medical drug, and this is a medical drug”. She said a referendum was one way of dealing with the issue, but the council should make a decision based on research.
The council meets with the DHB and anti-fluoride representatives next month.