Government needs to mobilise US$2,5 million to undertake a study to assess the impact of excessive fluoride in drinking water and to develop cost-effective interventions to reduce the severity of dental health care problems associated with this, a senior Government official says. In a statement, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Professor Paul Mavima, who is the patron and chief advisor to oral health researchers from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, said previous studies had shown that high flouride levels in Zimbabwe’s groundwater put the oral health of the majority of people in rural areas at risk.
He attributed the excessive flouride in underground water to environmental degradation, illegal mining, abandoned mine shafts among others.
Due to the severity of the oral health problem, Prof Mavima said, the research team seeks US$2,5 million to conduct another study aimed at coming up with solutions to end the crisis.
“The next stage of the research aims to investigate mitigation measures to nip this problem,” he said.
“The research team is ready to start the mitigation and all protocol documents from Ministry of Health and the Medical Research Council have been approved,” said Prof Mavima.
Previous studies have identified the link between fluoride concentration in drinking water and its impact on dental health in the local communities in areas that included Chimanimani, Buhera, Nyanga, Gwanda, Plumtree, Beitbridge, Tsholotsholo, Binga, Lupane, Kariba, Gokwe, Bikita and Zaka.
High levels of fluoride in water or diet is the main cause of fluorosis – which causes browning and weakening of teeth. On extreme cases, excess fluoride may lead to brain and kidney damage, and possibilities of cancer.
Dental fluorosis occurs in areas where the fluoride levels in ground water are higher than those recommended for drinking water.
Medical experts in Zimbabwe say fluorosis constituted a health problem and that the problem is related to the occurrence of fluoride in the ground water.