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Rotorua district council denies public a chance to have their say on better dental health

The Rotorua District Council has reversed its decision of two weeks ago to have a referendum on community water fluoridation. Seven Councillors have forced a change of plan, effectively shutting out the citizens of Rotorua in a decision that would benefit their health and the health of their children.

"It is a sad day for the people of Rotorua, especially for the children who with the introduction of community water fluoridation could have experienced a much reduced level of dental decay." says Dr David Crum, CEO of the NZDA. "We understand that the issue of costs of the referendum came up at the discussion last night, however it is important for the Council to realise that dental treatment for young children is the single largest user of general anaesthetic hospital based theatre sessions for that age group. The financial costs to the community are horrendous and the personal cost to these children having their teeth extracted due to pain and infection soul destroying". The Council also knew that much of the cost of the referendum was to be covered by the District Health Board. 

Councillors Charles Sturt, Glenys Searancke, Rob Kent, Peter Bentley, Mark Gould, Trevor Maxwell and Merepeka Raukawa-Tait have denied Rotorua parents their say in whether this safe and effective way of reducing tooth decay should be available to the children of their community. 

It is the Association's belief that these Councillors were elected by the people to bring about community activity that  benefits the people. Community water fluoridation absolutely fulfils that ideal of community benefit, particularly for the least fortunate of the community. 

Community water fluoridation is a safe, effective and efficient way to significantly reduce dental decay. The Dental Association congratulates the Mayor of the Rotorua District Council, Steve Chadwick, the Medical Officer of Health, Neil de Wet and the Chair of the District Health Board, Deryk Shaw and the local dentists of Rotorua for showing their leadership in recognizing these facts and attempting to assist the Rotorua Community to have the opportunity to express their wishes for better dental health. 

The Council's decision to hold a referendum and then two weeks later reverse that decision is another example of the expensively flawed local decision making process impacting on rational and essential community health actions. The Association supports the recent move by Local Government NZ in attempting to convince Central Government to modify legislation so that the Director General of Health makes the decision of whether to fluoridate the communities water supplies.   

Media contact:
Robine Harris, Communications and Publications Manager
New Zealand Dental Association
T: 09 579 8001

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