Doctors push for fluoride, following federal law change
DOCTORS are pushing the Queensland Government to mandate water fluoridation in the Far North, following law changes at the federal level.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration last week made legislative changes to clarify that fluoride in drinking water was a proven, safe and effective method for state and territory governments to prevent tooth decay.
The change puts an end to arguments about who is responsible for the public health measure.
Cairns Regional Council removed fluoride from the region's water supply in 2013, after state laws were amended to give councils the choice on providing the chemical in drinking water.
However, since then, the amount of children experiencing tooth decay has risen in recent years, according to Queensland Health data.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia said the state had the worst oral health in the nation, with nearly one third of Queenslanders missing out on fluoridated drinking water.
"The Premier, the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, the Queensland Chief Health Officer, and Chief Dental Officer, have all supported fluoridation," he said.
"There is no further reason for the government to delay reintroducing laws mandating all local governments to fluoridate their drinking water supplies."
Queensland Health data shows statewide, 55 per cent of children aged 5-14 experience tooth decay, with the figure rising to 70 per cent in indigenous children.
Dr Dhupelia said more than 20 per cent of Queenslanders were missing out on dental care, because it was not covered by Medicare, and they could not afford private health insurance.
"At a time when we are seeing overcrowded public hospitals, children and elderly people are taking up beds to have their teeth removed under general anaesthetic because of unnecessarily high rates of dental decay," he said.
In early May, Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said his council would stand aside on water fluoridation if the State Government re-mandated the public health measure.
A Cairns Post Facebook survey in March showed 61 per cent of readers were in favour of adding fluoride back to the Far North water supply.
Health Minister Steven Miles has been contacted for comment.