Marlborough may be a step closer to fluoridated water.
The Government has announced plans to transfer decision-making powers for fluoridating water supplies away from local authorities to district health boards.
Nelson Marlborough District Health Board chair Jenny Black said the health board endorsed fluoridation as an important public health measure.
“If we have the ability to fluoridate water, then we would be encouraging that to happen.”
“We’ve got a wee way to go yet but we’re trusted as a board to provide health services for the people of our district and we believe fluoridated water is the best way to do that.”
Legislation to shift fluoridation from local councils to district health boards would come before Parliament by the end of the year.
If the bill was passed, it was likely the changes would come into force from mid-2018.
It made sense for health boards rather than local councils to address the issue of fluoridation, Black said.
“At the end of the day it’s district health boards who have to deal with the effects of not having fluoridated water and poor oral health.
“For me, it closes the loop. It’s a health issue rather than a local authority one.”
Under the planned changes, local authorities would continue to be responsible for supplying drinking water, but would be required to fluoridate a water supply if directed by a health board.
Local authorities would continue to be responsible for the cost of fluoridating community water supplies, while the cost of making decision on fluoridation would be met by health boards.
Board principal dental officer Rob Beaglehole said giving responsibility for fluoridation to health boards was a step in the right direction.
Each year, health board dentists surgically removed teeth from 250 children under general anaesthetic.
Fluoridated water helped to strengthen teeth and make them resistant to decay, Beaglehole said.
“Ultimately it’s going to reduce the pain and suffering of children and reduce the burden on taxpayers who are paying to put kids to sleep to have rotten teeth taken out.”
Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said he thought fluoridation was an issue for central government.
“I think it’s a cop out for the government to give it to district health boards.
“They’ll have the same challenges that local government have had.”
There was a split within the Marlborough community between those who were opposed to fluoridation and those who supported it.
“Even within my council we have a split. It’s going to be contentious.”
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said he was keen to see more fluoridation of New Zealand supplies to combat the country’s high rates of avoidable tooth decay.
Only 27 of the country’s 67 local authorities were fluoridating their water, leaving 1.4 million Kiwis in areas without fluoridation.
The Marlborough Express
*Original article online at https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/78875897/health-boards-to-handle-water-fluoridation?rm=a