Water fluoridation to be controlled by Director-General of Health under proposed law

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The government has proposed a law change to give the Director-General of Health control of water fluoridation.

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Photo: Michael Heim/ 123rf

It is picking up the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill which was first introduced by the previous National government in 2016.

The bill as it stands proposes decision-making on fluoridation be shifted from local authorities to District Health Boards.

The government will however be introducing a Supplementary Order Paper that changes the bill and gives responsibility for decision making to the Director-General of Health.

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall expects the bill to pass by the end of the year.

It will simplify decision making and ensure there is a consistent nationwide approach, Verrall said.

“Right now only around 2.3 million New Zealanders have access to fluoridated drinking water. Community water fluoridation is a proven public health measure that will make a big difference to children’s wellbeing.

“The current level of fluoride found naturally in our water supplies is not enough to prevent tooth decay,” Verrall said.

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Local councils will remain responsible for the capital and operational costs of fluoridation but the government will provide support if needed.

More to come…

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