Three giant billboards on an inner city Waikato District Health Board building will come down tomorrow following today’s 9-1 vote from Hamilton City councillors to reinstate water fluoridation in the city.
The council decision has been a long time coming for Hamilton residents, of whom 67 per cent voted in favour of having fluoride returned to the water, in the council referendum last year.
Waikato DHB’s Community Oral Health Service manager Diane Pevreal said she spoke at the council meeting today on behalf of the 60,000 0-17-year-olds that come through her service every year.
Mrs Pevreal said the previous council’s decision to remove fluoride from Hamilton’s water nine months ago had condemned the city’s most vulnerable – children from low socio economic families – to a 40 per cent higher decay rate than they would have with fluoridated water.
“Our community supports us and what we do – just look at the results of the referendum and it’s clear that our community are well informed and cares about this decision,” she said.
Waikato District Health Board chief executive Craig Climo said today’s council vote was absolutely the right decision and a win for common sense and science.
“Community water fluoridation is an extremely effective public health measure and a much needed one here in Hamilton.
“The sooner water fluoridation is resumed for our children’s oral health, the better.”
Waikato DHB’s Media and Communications director Mary Anne Gill echoed Mr Climo’s sentiment, also speaking in the public forum in council chambers today, and implored council to put fluoride back in the water “as speedily as they took it out”.
She told council that she refuted claims by anti-fluoridation campaigners that Waikato DHB’s campaign was PR propaganda that “used every dirty trick in the book”.
“We spent $47,000 on our pro fluoride campaign, $8000 of that on billboards and banners.”
“But it is unfortunate that the DHB had to spend so much time and effort on the referendum when there are other major challenges in health including the return of diseases such as measles, whooping cough and hepatitis B, which should have been eradicated in my lifetime with the benefit of immunisation.”
Following a tribunal in June 2013, Hamilton City councillors voted 7-1 to remove fluoride from Hamilton’s water supply.
Following significant resistance to the decision, a non-binding referendum was held in conjunction with council elections in October 2013, and nearly 70 per cent of voters asked for fluoride to be added back to Hamilton’s water.
The council voted 7-5 to defer a decision from the referendum results until they knew the outcome of a High Court decision to a challenge by anti-fluoridation group New Health to South Taranaki District Council’s decision to fluoridate its water supply.
South Taranaki District Council’s decision was upheld by the High Court.
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