The Nelson Marlborough Health Board have been asked by members of the public what it will take for them to consider changing their position on water fluoridation.
A group of concerned Nelson residents attended the public forum of the recent NMDHB meeting to express their concerns over the fluoridation of water in the region.
Sara Cooper questioned what alternatives had been considered by the board in addressing the problem of dental cavities.
“With regard to water fluoridation and medicating the human tooth via our water, what choices were put infront of you as solutions? I’m interested to know that as a member of the public,” she said.
Cooper used Scotland as an example of a country which had never fluoridated their water supply despite facing a dramatic increase in dental cavities in children.
She said instead of fluoridating the water supply, the Scottish government chose to implement Child Smile, a national programme designed to improve the oral health of children and reduce inequalities in dental health and access to dental services.
“Encourage health, encourage self health promotion and knowledge so that we can look after ourselves,” said Cooper.
“You want children to tie their own shoelaces, you don’t want to tie their shoelaces forever.”
Another manquestioned what it would take for the board to reconsider their position on water fluoridation.
“My question is very simple, what would it take for you to change your mind? What do you need to see? Studies? Reports?”
Board chair Jenny Black thanked those who spoke and said she appreciated that they had come to address the board.
In August, the NMDHB confirmed it’s position on water fluoridation by adopting a formal statement.
It endorses community water fluoridation as an important public health measure to maintain good oral health, the prevention of tooth decay and the reduction of health inequalities.
The statement says that community water fluoridation is a safe, effective and affordable population-based strategy for the prevention of dental decay. It supports the Ministry of Health’s position, recommending the fluoridation of drinking water supplies to the optimal level of 0.7-1.0 mg/L to provide further protection against dental decay.
At the time, the board said other health boards around the country should make their position on water fluoridation clear to encourage central government to address the issue.
The NMDHB made submissions to the Nelson City Council’s Long Term Plan earlier this year urging the council to fluoridate the city’s water supply to improve the dental health of children and adults in the region.
At the time, Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese urged government ministers to address the issue on a national basis.
A community meeting on water fluoridation by members of Fluoride Free Nelson is being held on Saturday November 28 at the Stoke Memorial Hall, 548 Main Road, Stoke.