THE Hastings water supply will be fluoridated but campaigners against the move are planning an information session in Port Macquarie.
Public information sessions are set down for Bellingen and Coffs Harbour later this month, and Cr Lisa Intemann is working with others in a bid to hold a similar information session in the Hastings.
The Hastings has until November 2005 to fluoridate its water supply following direction from NSW Health.
A directive came through on Friday from the Director General of Health Robyn Kruk for the Hastings, Kempsey and Coffs Harbour councils to fluoridate their water supplies.
The fluoridation issue has stirred up controversy, with supporters pointing to the need for fluoridated water to combat a tooth decay epidemic and opponents questioning the process and safety of fluoride.
North Coast Area Health Service administrator Chris Crawford welcomed the department’s directive.
“Fluoridation is a safe, cost effective and equitable solution to the growing problem of tooth decay,” he said.
But Cr Intemann remains firm in her opposition to fluoridation.
“Drinking fluoride to stop tooth decay is as sensible as swallowing condoms to stop conception.”
Meanwhile, Hastings Safe Water Association will continue its long-standing public information campaign.
“This process has been an appaling attack on democracy but I will continue to warn people via the media,” publicity officer Don Mackay said.
“It will take years for this to come out but there will be an increase in dental fluorosis.”
NSW Health has committed $2 million to fund all capital costs and the area health service will provide $20,000 per year to each council over two years for recurrent costs.
Hastings mayor Rob Drew, who was in favour of referring fluoridation to the expert panel, said local clinicians supported fluoridation.
“They are the professionals who deal with this day in, day out,” he said.
“I felt we had to take notice of that.”
The area health service says the Mid-North Coast has higher decay rates than the NSW average due to inappropriate diet and nutrition, inadequate oral hygiene, inability to access dental care and lack of fluoridation.
Mr Crawford added that through cooperation between the councils and area health service, this crisis will now be addressed.
Bellingen Council was not included in the directive to fluoridate, to enable further community discussion.
The Director General’s directive comes a week after all Australian health ministers endorsed fluoridation of water supplies as an effective public health measure.