A South Canterbury MP supports water fluoridation but will not say if she supports central government control of it.
MP for Rangitata, National’s Jo Goodhew, said on Monday she believed fluoridation was a “safe, effective and affordable public health measure to improve oral health”.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has said the government is considering how to increase the spread of fluoridated water supplies to prevent tooth decay.
However, Goodhew did not respond to a question about whether central government should decide whether fluoride should be added to local supplies, saying no decision had yet been made.
At present, decisions about fluoridation rest in the hands of local councils who administer public water supplies. Whakatane District councillors voted six to five last week to end fluoridation of its community supplies, a measure which had been in place since 1972.
Timaru’s fluoridation programme ended in 1985 after a public campaign, but The South Canterbury District Health Board’s community and public health committee voted in December to recommend a position statement supporting fluoridation to the full board.
Local dentist, Goodhew’s husband Mark Goodhew, has stated the health board should encourage the council to reintroduce fluoride to water supplies.
However, Timaru District Mayor Damon Odey said in December central government needed to take responsibility for the issue, a position echoed by inter-council organisation Local Government New Zealand. Its members voted in 2014 in favour of passing responsibility for fluoridation decisions to the director-general of health.
Community water supplies in the Waimate and Mackenzie Districts also remain unfluoridated.