Waikato District Health Board is encouraged by the recent decision to retain fluoridation of the Thames water supply. The continuation of water fluoridation will now be incorporated in the Thames Coromandel District Council’s draft annual plan.

The medical officer of health for the Waikato District Health Board, Dr Felicity Dumble, said she was “delighted” with the decision.

The health board presented submissions to the Thames Community Board based on factual, scientific evidence and was supported by the experience of dentists and health professionals working in the community. “In the end, logic and professional advice was heeded by the community board, and we are grateful for that,” Dr Dumble said.

“The Thames decision is very encouraging, and follows the decision by the Waikato District Council to retain fluoridation where it is already in place and extend it into the Hopu Hopu and Te Kauwhata treatment plants, and to start consulting with the Pokeno community about including it there as well,” she said.

“I now hope the Hamilton City Council follows in the footsteps of these communities.”

Hamilton City Council will host a tribunal on the subject in May.

Waikato DHB Population Health assistant group manager Clare Coles said she was proud of the way her team had developed such a strong case for water fluoridation.

“Poor oral health is a significant issue throughout New Zealand including within the Waikato DHB region. It’s of concern for people of all ages but especially for Maori and Pacific Island populations.

“Our submission showed monitored water fluoridation is safe and effective.

“Population Health staff are passionate about preventing unnecessary dental decay and improving oral health in our communities,” she said.

“In this case we had great support from local dentists and health providers, local residents including Robin Plummer and Bill Barclay, the Iwi Māori Council and Te Puna Oranga Māori Health Service, Midlands Health Network, and nationally from the National Fluoridation Information Service.”

Waikato DHB has a responsibility to advocate and advise on public health matters relating to communities within its district, and will actively do so when territorial authorities raise an issue like water fluoridation.

However the board has recently turned down invitations to speak at Hamilton public meetings organised by the anti-fluoride lobby group Fluoride Action Network NZ (FANNZ).

“We prefer to work within the decision-making processes each territorial authority sets up. In Hamilton City Council’s case it has opted for a tribunal system and we will respect that process.

The health board’s information and advice are available at all times on its website.”