Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Government Endangers Childrens' Health

PRESS RELEASE
27 July 1999

Graham Capill
Party Leader

GOVERNMENT ENDANGERS CHILDRENS' HEALTH

On the eve of an announcement by the Ministry of Health, reviewing its amalgam fillings policy, damming evidence has come to light that the Ministry's mishandling of the issue could have put children's lives at risk.

In March of this year, dentists were advised that because of the high toxicity of dental amalgam 'it would be prudent to avoid, where clinically reasonable, the placement or removal of amalgam fillings during pregnancy'. The Ministry therefore asked dentists to take into account this information in their assessment of patient needs.

Yet information secured under the Official Information Act by the Christian Heritage Party reveals that the Ministry of Health has been sitting on this information since the British Department of Health decision was publicized in December 1997.

"It is incredible to think", stated the Party's Leader Graham Capill, "that the government has been withholding the UK material since December 1997, and only now, fifteen months later, has decided to make it known.

"What I want to know from the Minister, is how many unborn children were put at risk by his Department's inaction?

"It is more than mere coincidence that once we started making our own investigations into the government's policy on dental amalgam earlier this year, the Minister quickly moved to cover his back with this press release", stated Capill. "Within days of an Official Information request from ourselves, the Minister's letters were being sent to practising dentists advising them of a statement from the Department of Health in the United Kingdom on the placement or removal of amalgam fillings during pregnancy.



"Yet the potential problem is greater than that", Capill noted, "as most New Zealanders over the age of 30 years have multiple dental amalgams." It is estimated that as a total population we have between 20 to 40 million amalgam fillings.

Mercury makes up 50% of amalgam fillings and is more toxic than Lead and Arsenic. Low-grade chronic mercury intoxication has been associated with symptoms of anxiety, irritability, outbursts of temper, stress, intolerance and depression. At a more serious level, mercury has been implicated in Alzheimer's Disease, causing damage to developing foetuses, depleting the immune system and leading to kidney disease in animals.

While conclusive proof for a direct causal link between some of these health problems has thus far eluded researchers, there is enough cautionary evidence to lead a number of Western European nations throughout the 1990s to initiate phasing-out programmes of all new amalgam fillings.

"Yet the Ministry of Health's debacle over the warning to pregnant women is only the latest slip-up in an appalling saga of foot-dragging and plain old-fashioned in-action", Mr Capill said. "Just when it looked like the government was getting its act together in establishing a panel of experts to examine the issue in 1997, it then promptly proceeded to ignore most of their recommendations.

"Why commission a group of knowledgeable medical professionals to undertake the 1997 review and then ignore their recommendations? It is incredible to think that the Ministry could be so willing to play Russian Roulette with our nation's health", Mr Capill commented.

"Certainly, the future of the long anticipated review of government policy does not bode well if past experience is anything to go by.

"For example, one of the 1997 report's most important sections highlighted in the 1997 policy statement noted the need for dentists to comply with the New Zealand Health and Disability Act's Consumer Rights. Code Six of the Act, requires that a person receiving a filling must be advised of the expected risks, side effects, benefits and costs of any procedure, including dental fillings.

"The evidence I have", stated Capill, "is that dentists routinely fail to warn patients of the potential risks associated with mercury based fillings as required by the Health and Disability Codes.

"How many New Zealanders who have been to the dentist in the last two years were made aware of the threat amalgam fillings may pose to their long-term well-being? Very few, I suggest. Dentists who do take their obligations under the Codes seriously are few and far between and it is up the Minister to ensure dentists are carrying out Ministry of Health directives."

The only major initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Health in accordance with the recommendations of the 1997 report is the establishment of a study of New Zealand Army personnel dental records.

Even here though, serious concerns have come to the attention of the Christian Heritage Party. Canadian, Dr. Mark Richardson, who worked on the Canadian government's study on the toxicity of amalgam, has pointed out that the Army personnel are not representative of society in general as they are selected and screened for being particularly healthy and within a fairly narrow age range. He also noted that it was a concern that there was apparently no amalgam-free control group in the New Zealand Defence Forces' study to provide comparative results.

The Christian Heritage Party believes that in the short term the government should follow two paths. First, it needs to ensure that dentists are warning their patients of the potential risk associated with amalgam fillings in accordance with the Health and Disability Codes. Second, the government should extend its subsidy for amalgam fillings for children to include less toxic alternatives.

As a long term objective the government needs to consider following the European model and begin phasing out amalgam fillings with a view to having dental clinics 'amalgam free' by the year 2010.

In addition the Christian Heritage Party wants the whole process for handling possible dental amalgam poisoning cases by the ACC overhauled. In the period 1 July 1992 to 6 May 1999, ACC received 30 claims for mercury poisoning resulting from amalgam fillings. Of these, 24 were declined, three were withdrawn and the claimants are currently reviewing a further three.

"ACC and the Ministry of Health are working hand-in-glove in this whole affair", says Capill. "Our research indicates that there have been serious lapses of judgment and a lack of caution being brought to a serious health problem by both these institutions. ACC's refusal to even give these claims an adequate hearing, thanks to the one-sided information distributed by the Ministry of Health, impinges on the credibility of the Corporation and the confidence New Zealanders have in it." Mr Capill said.

Contact: Party Leader Graham Capill (021) 661 766

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

SCOOP COVERAGE: CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUES TERROR ATTACK


Gordon Campbell: On Reforming Parliament’s Toxic Culture

It would be nice to think Parliament was a forum where rationality ruled – and where policies are raised and evaluated in terms of their contribution to the greater good. Obviously, it isn’t like that... More>>

Historic Assualt Allegation: Parliamentary Service Staff Member Stood Down
Rt Hon Trevor Mallard said today: “I do not want to cut across any employment or possible police investigations, but I am satisfied that the Parliamentary Service has removed a threat to the safety of women working in the Parliamentary complex." More>>


 

Fatal 2018 Crash: Police Officer Should Not Have Engaged In Pursuit

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police officer should not have tried to stop or pursue a car thought to contain young people in Palmerston North on 28 May 2018. More>>

ALSO:

New Poverty Targets: Goals Overlook 174000 Children In Worst Poverty

Child Poverty Action Group is pleased to see the Government set ambitious 10-year targets for child poverty reduction, but we are disappointed not to see a target set for improving thousands of young lives where the worst of poverty is found. More>>

ALSO:

Study: Guidelines Needed To Avoid Risks In Government AI

New Zealand is a world leader in government algorithm use – but measures are needed to guard against their dangers. This is the conclusion of a New Zealand Law Foundation-funded report from the University of Otago’s Artificial Intelligence and Law in New Zealand Project. More>>

ALSO:

Pike River: Families Welcome Opening Of Drift

The group representing 29 of the Pike River Families - the Pike River Family Reference Group - has welcomed the unsealing of the mine at a private family event this morning... More>>

ALSO:

Auckland Harbour Bridge: New Design For Walking And Cycling Crossing

The NZ Transport Agency has released plans for its preferred option for a shared path over the Auckland Harbour Bridge which will transform walking and cycling not only across the harbour, but throughout the city. The Transport Agency says its preferred ... More>>

ALSO:

Wellington:

Shaw First Reading Speech: Climate Change Response Bill

Madam Speaker, today we begin the task of amending the Climate Change Response Act [2002], to fulfil the commitment that we have made, as a country, to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. More>>

ALSO:

Housing: More Unsold Kiwibuild Houses Bought By Govt

The Crown underwrite for unsold Kiwibuild homes has been triggered for a second time. Now lack of sales in Mike Greer's development in Canterbury and Auckland means the government has had to buy back seven more homes. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels