Fluoride Action Network

Israel’s fluoridation supply expected to be restored after three years

Source: The Jersusalem Post | August 22nd, 2017 | By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
Location: Israel



The cost of fluoridation adds just a few agorot per cubic meter to water bills.

Two years and two months have passed since Health MinisterYa’acov Litzman promised to restore fluoridation – canceled by his predecessor Yael German – of the nation’s water supply. In the meantime, the dental health of children, especially those in low-income families that eat junk food and don’t take care of their teeth properly has suffered, according to experts.

When German and her party were voted out of power in the last Knesset election, reversing her cancellation of fluoridation was one of the first steps Litzman planned to implement, but the problem has dragged on.

In “a few months,” fluoridation will return, according to Udi Kaliner, acting head of public health services in the ministry, if the council of the Water Authority headed by Giora Shaham approves it as expected and a suit filed in the High Court of Justice by German against fluoridation is dismissed.

Kaliner said the ministry is determined to restore fluoridation all over the country, but as the contents of drinking water is controlled by law, only the Knesset can pass legislation to restore it. “All the regulations for water quality and fluoridation are in place. They have to be published to put them into effect, and the Water Authority council has to approve it. I agree that too much time has passed, but the process takes time,” he added.

The council will meet on September 7. The cost of fluoridation adds just a few agorot per cubic meter to water bills.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world drink water with the controlled addition of fluoride to reduce tooth decay. Many others are protected because of fluoride that is naturally present in their water supplies. Fluoridated water creates low levels of fluoride in saliva, which reduces the rate at which tooth enamel demineralizes and speeds up the rate at which it remineralizes in the early stages of cavities.

More than 70% of Americans have had fluoridated water, which was first introduced in the US in the early 20th century.

The World Health Organization reports that water fluoridation has substantial advantages, especially for high-risk groups, and the World Dental Federation has supported water fluoridation as safe and effective. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Nevertheless, fluoridation has remained controversial in some groups, especially on the Internet, and German – who argued as minister that people should not be forced to drink water with added components, although she did not oppose chlorination – canceled it three years ago.

The Health Ministry introduced mandatory water fluoridation in 1970 in cities, towns and settlements with over 5,000 residents, and indeed, 70% of Israelis received fluoridated water delivered to their taps. But German opposed it as Meretz party mayor of Herzliya and stopped it in her city.

Just weeks after entering office as health minister, she declared that she would stop fluoridation and encountering fierce criticism from professionals in leading Israeli schools of public health and dentistry and from her own ministry experts, she wavered and suggested that fluoridation could be an option instead of being outlawed.

German’s spokesman said then that only Ireland and Israel require fluoridation of drinking water, but her critics responded that everywhere else is it an option open to all local authorities except where barred completely, that is in Holland, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

A group of public health and dental experts including Hebrew University School of Public Health emeritus Prof. Ted Tulchinsky, Prof. Harold Sgan-Cohen and Prof. Jonathan Mann of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Dental Medicine charged then that German’s position was based on “populist arguments, supported by amateur studies” and ignored dozens of years of research in Israel and the world [that absolutely showed] that there is no better health, economic and social substitute for adding fluoride to the tap water in Israel.”

*Original article online at http://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/Israels-fluoridation-supply-expected-to-be-restored-after-three-years-503121

Note from Fluoride Action Network:
The former Minister of Health, Yael German of the Yesh Atid political party, was smart and progressive and in taking her office in 2013 she began a process than ended mandatory fluoridation in Israel. She replaced Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, who was the nominal Minister of Health from 2009 to 2013 (and for 3 months in 2015). In reality this position was held by orthodox Rabbi Ya’akov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism political party. The reason that Litzman couldn’t be named as Minister of Health was because he was a rabbi. However that issue was settled in 2015 and his name is now acknowledged as Minister. One of the first issues Rabbi Litzman took on when he was reappointed by Netanyahu was to bring back the fluoridation of drinking water in Israel. However, as the article below notes, there are still some obstacles in place before this can happen.