Levin and Ōhau will start getting fluoridated water from the middle of next year.
Some residents will be shocked by this, but Horowhenua has no choice and the decision has been taken away from the council. Horowhenua is one of 14 local authorities that have received instructions from the Director-General of Health under the Health (Drinking Water Fluoridation) Amendments 2021 to start fluoridating their drinking water supplies by July 31. Council chief executive Monique Davidson said the council was “obliged to comply with the directive”.
The Act transfers decision-making power regarding fluoride from local authorities to the Director-General of Health. This change allows for a nationally consistent approach to community water fluoridation based on its recognized health benefits.
The estimated cost of introducing fluoridation to the Levin and Ōhau drinking water supplies is $1 million, with ongoing management and monitoring costs of $40,000 per year. The council has applied to the Ministry of Health for funding to install the technology needed to add fluoride to the water supplies in Levin and Ōhau.
However, if the council waits for the outcome of its funding application before installing it, it will not be able to meet the July 31 deadline. In order to start planning and procurement immediately, and to ensure council meets the requirements of the Act, Horowhenua District Council voted to amend its capital budget at its November 23 meeting to provide fluoridation for the Levin and Ōhau water supplies. Work will begin in early 2023.
Mayor Bernie Wanden said, “The fluoridation of the drinking water supply in Levin and Ōhau is an important step in improving the oral health of our community. Ultimately, it is a government directive that we must follow.”
Chief executive Monique Davidson said: “The department’s directive comes at a time when the industry is facing many changes – some local, some national. Fluoridation is a controversial On this topic, our community may have a different point of view. The City Council has an obligation to comply with the directive and it is time for us to enforce it for the community. The only challenge we face now is to ensure that future oral health problems do not occur in our region. equality phenomenon.”
The Ministry of Health provided the following data to support this decision:
The Levin and Ōhau water supplies are located within the former MidCentral District Sanitation Board area.
2020 data for children ages 0-12 in the MidCentral District Health Board area shows:
• Overall, 42% of children experienced tooth decay by age 5;
• On average, 5-year-olds have 1.89 decayed, missing or filled primary teeth, while 8th graders have an average of 1.10 decayed, missing or filled adult teeth;
• Māori and Pasifika children had significantly worse outcomes than other children in the Central District Health Board area. For example, 59% of Māori children experienced decay by the age of 5, compared to 37% of all other (non-Māori and non-Pacific) children.
Horowhenua District Council’s 2017-2020 New Zealand Health Survey results show:
• 67.5% of adults (ages 15+) will have one or more teeth extracted in their lifetime due to decay, abscess, infection or gum disease;
• 7.9% of adults (ages 15+) had one or more teeth removed in the past 12 months due to decay, abscess, infection or gum disease.
The evidence supporting the decision of the Director-General of Health shows that fluoridation has been shown to be a safe, affordable and effective way to prevent tooth decay. Community water fluoridation benefits everyone, but especially children, Māori, Pacific Islanders and our most vulnerable. That’s why it is supported by the Pasifika Dental Association and Te Ao Mārama (New Zealand Māori Dental Association). Water fluoridation helps prevent tooth decay, along with regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, eating healthy foods, and avoiding sugary drinks.
Fluoride in water is like a permanent restoration kit for your teeth. The effects of fluoride in water have been intensively studied around the world (including New Zealand) over the past 60 years, but there is no evidence that it causes any major health problems at the levels used in New Zealand. Adding fluoride to water in New Zealand continues to have a positive impact in reducing the incidence of tooth decay and is particularly important in reducing socioeconomic health inequities.
“Approximately 20,000 people in the Levin community will benefit from improved oral health because fluoride will significantly reduce the prevalence and severity of cavities,” said Mayor Wanden. Like all problems, he said, there will be “those Science naysayers”, but all claims in favor of fluoridated water supplies are supported by evidence from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.