Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

NZDA calls on government to pass languishing water fluoridation bill

By Dental Tribune International
November 20, 2019

AUCKLAND, New Zealand: In a recent statement, the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) said it would like to see more cross-party support in parliament for the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill. The bill was introduced when the National party was in power. Now sitting on the opposition side of parliament, National has been encouraged by the NZDA to take a similar approach to the one taken for the Zero Carbon Bill, which had bilateral support.

The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill amends Part 2A of the Health Act 1956 by giving district health boards the power to make decisions and give directions about the fluoridation of local government drinking water supplies in their areas.

Introduced by the National government in 2017, the then Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne said in a statement in the same year: “Decisions would be based on the assessment of health-related evidence and local needs. Recognition that fluoridating water is the single most important initiative to improve dental health, particularly child dental health, is long overdue and I’m sure this move will be welcomed by the wider community.”

In a recent press release, NZDA fluoride spokesperson Dr Rob Beaglehole said: “National introduced this bill back then [2017], so they must support this. Labour supported it in opposition—and they’re now in government. How about all politicians backing this, for the good of New Zealand’s oral health?”

According to Beaglehole, the bill has been languishing before parliament for some time. Now, with the recent success around the Zero Carbon Bill, he said: “We’ve seen that bipartisan, in fact, multi-partisan, cooperation is possible for the future of our planet, so why not for the future of New Zealand’s dental health.”

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