THE final debate on fluoride and dental heath in Mackay may have taken place, with a council-funded oral health education program for schools rejected by the Mackay Regional Council.
Implementation of an oral health education program was proposed at the council’s Infrastructure and Services Standing Committee meeting as a result of fluoride being taken out of Mackay’s water supply.
“Mackay Oral Health has been approached by several parents’ groups and child health nurses to enquire what Queensland Health will be providing to compensate for the water fluoridation that has been ceased,” a report before the committee said.
“Mackay Oral Health feedback is that there is an inability to provide any additional services to what they are already providing and it will require additional resources.”
During the meeting, Cr Laurence Bonaventura said he felt the council had been put in the position of providing oral hygiene education due to the removal of fluoride and the cost savings by decommissioning the fluoride plants should fund an oral hygiene education program.
To employ an oral health therapist would require council to source funding of approximately $100,000 dollars a year. It cost Mackay council (namely its ratepayers) about $250,000 a year, or $2.80 per person to fluoridate the region’s water supply.
“I was asking council simply to cover the shortfall that has been left in the oral hygiene area by the removal of fluoride in the water, especially for those families that don’t promote oral hygiene,” Cr Bonaventura said.
However, Cr Bonaventura’s proposal was rejected, with the council stating “the role of oral hygiene education falls under the State Government mandate and is not considered to be part of local government core business”.
“However, if council wishes to contribute or boost the oral hygiene program delivered locally, then there are opportunities to consider funding in the future,” the report stated.
“I believe we have made a mistake,” Cr Bonaventura said.
“I believe that it would have been a positive move by council to fund an oral health education program, but I also accept that they haven’t got the funds and their decision to put money towards the state system.
“I believe the council could look at the proposal again before next year’s budget.”
The council will ratify the Infrastructure and Services Standing Committee Meeting recommendation to not fund an oral health education program at Wednesday’s Ordinary Council Meeting.