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Something rotten in the state of dental health

22 March 2005

There’s something rotten in the state of dental health

The Health Minister should be embarrassed that New Zealand’s oral health services have got so bad that a fast food outlet is stepping in to fill the cavities left by the Government, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

The numbers of children with rotting teeth and outdated equipment forced Ms King to announce yesterday a reshuffle of state-funded dental health services, and plans for community dental clinics.

“I only hope these proposed new community clinics are not going to be funded by sponsorship deals from corporates looking for marketing opportunities, as mobile dental clinics already are.”

Ms Kedgley noted that Ms King is in Northland tomorrow launching a McDonald’s-sponsored dental clinic, emblazoned with huge images of Ronald McDonald.

“Are these new clinics going to bear images of Ronald McDonald as well, or perhaps the logo of a sweet factory looking for a new way to promote its products?”

The Northland District Health Board’s decision to accept McDonald’s sponsorship of the mobile clinic has been criticised by public health groups.

Ms Kedgley said the Government did not seem to understand the negative and contradictory public messages it is sending by allowing fast food companies to sponsor core health programmes.

“Allowing a company that sells high-sugar drinks and food to sponsor a dental clinic is like allowing the tobacco industry to sponsor a lung cancer treatment programme.”

“I repeat my call to the Government to pull out of these tawdry sponsorship deals to fund core health services.”

Ms Kedgley said it was embarrassing that the Government had allowed dental services to deteriorate to such an extent that it was turning to fast food companies to bail it out instead of fronting up with the cash itself.

ENDS

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