The Kapiti Coast District Council voted yesterday to review fluoridation of Paraparaumu, Waikanae, and Raumati through its upcoming Draft Annual Plan process. Fluoridation will be a “special topic” and addressed as a “special consultation” issue. This will include a Tribunal-style hearing of at least one full day.
This will be similar to the Tribunals held in New Plymouth and Hamilton, where both camps make extensive and in-depth submissions on key points of the debate. Both those processes resulted in a vote to end fluoridation. Even councillors who were initially opposed to the process subsequently heralded it as robust and highly informative.
Speakers at Kapiti both for and against fluoridation said that there was a large amount of misinformation circulating in the community. Mary Byrne and Mark Atkin, of health group Fluoride Action Network NZ, told councillors how important it was to be able to hear the scientific information from both sides in depth, to sort true information from misinformation.
“We are pleased that councillors have chosen current ‘best practice’ for addressing this hotly debated issue”, said the two. The Tribunal process is recommended by both the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister.
The KCDC reviewed fluoridation in 2010, with a hung vote of 5-5. Thus the status quo remained. That vote is currently under judicial review as Cr Anne Chapman was deputy chair of the Mid Central DHB at the time, and voted for fluoridation in line with the DHB’s political commitment. The current review will supersede any ruling on Cr Chapman’s conflict of interest.
Several NZ councils have ended or rejected fluoridation since 2000. Currently, only 23 of the 69 councils fluoridate any of their communities. Worldwide, only a handful of countries fluoridate their water. It has been universally rejected throughout continental Europe, apart from one town in Spain.