Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Last Gulp for Hamilton Fluoride


Last Gulp for Hamilton Fluoride

BY GEOFFREY ROBINSON and REIHANA ROBINSON

As its tribunal date fast approaches, Hamilton City Council faces little choice but to turn off the tap and end its controversial practice of drinking water fluoridation once and for all.

With public opinion tilting heavily against addition of chemical fluoride (hydrofluorosilicic acid) to city water, mounting concerns in the scientific and medical communities, and serious ethical questions, there is scant justification left for Hamilton to continue forced mass medication of the city’s population.

In response to its recent month-long campaign for public input, the tribunal received an unprecedented 1,560 submissions. Of those, 1,386 (89 per cent) oppose fluoridation – an overwhelming majority that erases all doubt as to where residents stand.

An examination of submissions reveals broad opposition, ranging from ordinary householders and parents to those identified with dental and orthodontic practices, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, NZ Health Trust, NZ Journal of Natural Medicine, naturopathic and general health practices, and organisations from Grey Power and Soil and Health to the Waikato Clinical School.

The submissions against Hamilton’s fluoride practice number more than ten times those received during the annual plan process only two years ago. Opposition has clearly grown. Approximately 150 submitters have asked to address the tribunal, stretching the hearings to four days.

The Waikato District Health Board is required to support the pro-fluoridation policy of the Ministry of Health and, consequently, Hamilton’s 47-year-old fluoridation habit. Of the minority of submitters supporting fluoridation, many are associated with the DHB itself or MOH.

Just prior to HCC’s call for public submissions, the Waikato DHB ratcheted up its political lobbying efforts behind the scenes, with a troubling and professionally unusual medical “Grand Rounds” presentation on the subject of drinking water fluoridation. In the world of medical education, grand rounds are a form of ongoing education for practitioners, commonly in lecture and question format. Generally reflecting the highest of academic standards and welcoming of both professionals and all interested lay people, grand rounds are an academic forum reflecting the best tradition of broadening knowledge, learning and understanding. The Robinsons, as a matter of personal interest, have attended grand rounds at one well-known North American medical school.

But the late February Waikato DHB grand rounds “lecture”, presented by medical officer of heath Felicity Dumble and principle dental officer and Hamilton dentist Rob Aitken, was something different. Startling some in attendance, the presenters opened with instructions that anyone associated with any media -- newspaper, radio or other public information outlet -- was required to leave the room immediately. Unlike proper grand rounds, attendees were told the event was “a private meeting”.

One highly qualified health professional characterised the day’s intro as “like a fascist lock down”. What followed was reportedly less academic than expected and more a political effort to bolster support for fluoridation among local medical and health professionals. The speakers reportedly presented sketchy and incomplete data promoting fluoridation and ridiculed scientific evidence associating fluoridation with disorders from osteoporosis and vascular disease to impaired foetal development and lowered cognitive function.

A question from another physician in attendance requesting peer-reviewed studies that support the DHB stance was brushed aside. The audience instead heard a plea for continued fluoridation of drinking water.

The Waikato District Health Board will be the main “group presenter” supporting fluoridation at HCC’s climactic tribunal.

Three HCC councillors -- Pippa Mahood, Martin Gallagher, and Ewan Wilson – are elected members of the Waikato DHB. The three also sit on the DHB Community and Public Health Advisory Committee, which advises the full board on policies like fluoridation in Hamilton. By virtue of their DHB jobs, the three have obvious, major conflicts of interest in respect of the HCC fluoride tribunal.

Were Mahood, Wilson, or Gallagher to participate, it would be like serving on a jury where the chief prosecutor is one’s brother-in-law. They should step down or be excused by tribunal chairman Mayor Julie Hardaker.

Other councillors, like former DHB member and deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman, may have opinions on fluoridation going into the tribunal. But that is realistically to be expected and, after all, someone has to decide.

As for its decision, HCC has no legal mandate to medicate the general population, and the purported benefits of drinking water fluoridation are far from proven and widely debated at best. Health risks cannot be discounted. Safety cannot be guaranteed. Councillors are not medical practitioners. Forced medication is unethical. There are inexpensive and readily available alternatives. The public rejects fluoridation by a wide margin.

There is no other choice. Hamilton fluoridation has to end.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

17 Year Sentences In Baby Moko Case: Attorney General On Plea Bargain

“The Crown’s decisions in this case, including the decision to accept the manslaughter pleas, were motivated by the need to secure convictions for this horrendous killing and to avoid the significant risk that either of the defendants could escape such a conviction because of evidential issues.” More>>

ALSO:

No Rail For New Harbour Crossing: National Giving Up On Rail In Auckland

The National Government’s decision to scrap two planned rail lines in Auckland shows it is giving up on a city-wide rail network in Auckland, and on thousands of commuters who sit in traffic jams every single day, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Ombudsman’s Verdict On Paula Rebstock And Ian Rennie

Unfortunately, the brave and damning report by Ombudsman Ron Paterson on the “flawed” and “unfair” inquiry conducted by Dame Paula Rebstock into events at MFAT pulls back the veil on a far wider issue. More>>

ALSO:

Charities' Report: Stressed Families - Overstretched Services

“Like so many of the whānau and families they serve social service organisations are under huge financial stress. The support demanded from desperate people in communities is far outreaching the resources available.” More>>

ALSO:

Detention: Wellingtonians Protest Treatment Of Refugees

Peace Action Wellington (PAW) and around 50 Wellingtonians blockaded the Australian High Commission, creating a symbolic detention centre to protest the Australian Government's policy of mandatory offshore detention for refugees and asylum seekers. More>>

ALSO:

Diver's Alarums: Breach Means Training Provider Must Repay $1.47 Million

The New Zealand School of Outdoor Studies is to repay $1.47 million (GST-exclusive) to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) following an investigation which showed that some student enrolments between 2009 -2014 could not be validated and that courses were under-delivered against their agreement with the TEC. More>>

ALSO:

Education: Government Plans Suggest Bulk Funding Return

Plans by the Government to return to bulk funding are likely to see increased class sizes and schools most in need missing out on much-needed resources, Labour’s Acting Education spokesperson Grant Robertson says. More>>

ALSO:

Interim Report: Auckland Looks Long Term To Pay-Per-Km Road Pricing

Aucklanders can expect to be paying variable rates per kilometre to travel on the city's most congested roads under an emerging transport strategy being formulated by the government and the Auckland Council. More>>

ALSO:

Despite Promises: Government Extends Iraq Deployment

Cabinet has agreed to extend New Zealand’s contribution to the joint New Zealand-Australia mission to train Iraqi Security Forces until November 2018. More>>

ALSO:

On The 'Terrorism' Card:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news