THE Scottish Executive is being pressed to release the findings of a consultation exercise on the health of children’s teeth amid concern over the possibility of adding fluoride to the water supply.
The consultation was launched in 2002, originally for three months and later extended into 2003, with the results expected to be released by the end of last year.
More than 1,300 people sent submissions and the Executive received over 1,000 messages from opponents of fluoridation.
A 6,275-signature petition, organised by the Highland Movement Against Water Fluoridation (HMAWF), was handed in to the Scottish Parliament’s public petitions committee seeking to ban artificial water fluoridation.
It was dismissed in November on the grounds that the Executive was soon to announce its policy on the issue based on the consultation on children’s oral health.
Highland MSPs Maureen Macmillan and John Farquhar Munro have since asked the Executive when the response will be published and were told “as soon as possible”.
A spokeswoman for the Executive said yesterday that the way forward is likely to be published in about a month. She said representations on fluoridation are split with the public generally against and the health profession generally for. HMAWF says the delay is “unsatisfactory” and is calling on people to write to MSPs and the Executive to ask for the findings to be made public.
Lois MacDonell, the group’s chairwoman, said: “The Executive has allowed more than 11 months to elapse without the report being published or a policy decision being announced. The public petitions’ committee has dismissed the HMAWF petition on the basis of incorrect information concerning timing.
“The public is being kept in the dark and the wishes of many thousands of people are not being heeded by either the Executive or the committee. It is unacceptable that the views of people are not being listened to.”
The group says many people believe that adding fluoride to water supplies amounts to mass medication and individuals should have the right to choose whether they have fluoride or not. A number of campaigners have threatened to withhold payment of water bills if fluoride is added.
Jane Jones, the campaign director of the National Pure Water Association, said: “The Scottish Executive has no business to determine what the people of Scotland will or will not put into their bodies.”
But the British Dental Association said Scotland has a bad oral health record and it favours adding fluoride to some water supplies after consultation and public education and in conjunction with information on diet.