Fluoride decision 'likely to increase inequality'

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The decision by the Central Hawke's Bay District Council to withdraw fluoride from Waipukurau's water supply has been slated as "sad" and "very disappointing" by the Hawke's Bay District Health Board.

The health board has twice in the past five years lodged submissions to the council to keep fluoride in the water supply there because of benefits to oral health, especially among children.

Yesterday's decision was made despite mountains of evidence of its benefits from local, national and international health experts, board chief executive Kevin Snee said.

Fluoride was the most simple and cost-effective way of improving the oral health of the community.

"The impact of the decision will worsen the oral health of our children and is likely to increase inequality," he said.

"More children will need access to acute oral health services. Our paediatricians are telling me we will see a greater demand on our oral health and surgical services because of it.

"For me, not only as a chief executive of a district health board but also as a public health professional, this is a very disappointing and sad decision."

The use of fluoride was endorsed by the World Health Organisation, World Dental Federation, New Zealand Dental Council and New Zealand's Ministry of Health, along with many other national and international health leaders, Mr Snee said.

Its use was supported by more than 60 years of peer-reviewed scientific research.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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