Health boss frustrated over council fluoride
A frustrated Waikato District Health Board chief executive has lifted the lid on his thoughts around the upcoming Hamilton City Council fluoride referendum. (http://www.waikatodhb.govt.nz/news/pageid/2145881736/Health_boss_vents_frustration_with_HCC includes audio or mp3 available on request)
Craig Climo spoke to media in the wake of widespread media coverage around Hamilton City Council’s misguided leaflet on health advice about fluoride efficacy and teeth brushing.
The leaflet was sent out city-wide with rates invoices.
Mr Climo said the whole decision [to take fluoride out of Hamilton’s water] was a “perfect example of science losing out to bias”.
“We put up all the science and the anti-fluoridation side put up ill-informed, misguided comment and it won the day, and I think that should be of concern to anyone who’s rational,” said Mr Climo.
“It was the people who really need it, that are going to be most burdened by Hamilton City Council’s decision to remove fluoride from the water.
“We estimate – and it is a crude estimation – that the loss of fluoridated water will ultimately cost the DHB about another $500,000 in oral health care.
“And that versus about $48,000 the council said it cost them annually to fluoridate the water supply. That’s $500,000 that’s going to have to come from something else.
“But it’s not even just the financial issue. It’s the poorer oral health status.
“It’s the aesthetics, the stigmatisation, the loss of confidence, the loss of utility of teeth that goes with it.
“It’s little children having teeth removed under general anaesthetic.
“This was a decision made by white middle class people that will seriously disadvantage – has already disadvantaged – people in our community. That’s where we’re going to see the bulk of the problem.
“It’s not going to be amongst the people who are far more willing and able to look after themselves.”
He added that community water fluoridation is one of the very few health interventions where the beneficiary of the service actually doesn’t need to do anything to enjoy the benefits.
“Community water fluoridation is at very low cost and of clear health benefit. We shouldn’t lose those sorts of opportunities.”
For more information, visit www.waikatodhb.health.nz/fluoride