Doctors call for drastic action as dental decay soars
QUEENSLAND doctors are urging the State Government to mandate fluoride in all council water supplies as dental decay hits extreme levels.
The Australian Medical Association has called for more than half a million dollars to be allocated in the upcoming State Budget to reinstate fluoridation in the 19 local governments which removed it from their water supplies in 2013.
In that year state laws were amended to give councils the choice on providing the mineral in drinking water.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia said the adverse health impacts of this decision were now coming to light.
"Some of the largest regional centres in Queensland removed fluoride from their drinking water, including Cairns, Rockhampton and Bundaberg where dentists are now seeing extensive tooth decay among elderly people, resulting in the need for multiple extractions," he said.
"These 19 Councils are seemingly unwilling to accept the extensive body of evidence proving the health benefits and safety of fluoride and so we are calling on the State Government to rectify the problem urgently by mandating fluoride in all drinking water supplies."
Queensland Health oral health services data has revealed 43 per cent of children aged five to six years and 55 per cent of those aged five to 14 had experienced dental decay with the figure rising to 70 per cent for indigenous children.
The 2018 Report of the Queensland Chief Health Officer found children accounted for one quarter of all hospitalisations for dental conditions.
"Community water fluoridation is a cost-effective and equitable means of increasing exposure to the protective effects of fluoride, thereby reducing tooth decay across the population," the report found.
Dr Dhupelia said water fluoridation was not financial prohibitive, costing between 60 cents and $1 per person, per year.
In its budget submission to the State Government, AMAQ also called for $300,000 to help stop the practice of 'doctor shopping' that allowed patients to receive multiple prescriptions from different GPs.
"A Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) system will stop this practice and the State Government intends to introduce the program next year, however, GPs will need training, information and resourcing to be able to use the system," Dr Dhupelia said.
He also called for more than $2 million in the 2019-2020 State Budget for Wellbeing at Work resilience programs for all interns and junior doctors to help them cope with the pressures, conditions and demands of their jobs.
AMAQ's BUDGET WISH LIST
$530,000 to mandatory water fluoridation
$300,000 to real-time prescription monitoring
$2m resilience programs for interns and young doctors
$640,000 for trial to add childhood Motor Neuron disorder, Spinal Muscular Atrophy to the newborn heel prick test.
$10m to build extra bikeways, lighting on walking paths and public exercise equipment
$265,000 for collaborative, innovative public education campaign to battle obesity, curb chronic disease rates and promote healthy lifestyles.
$362,400 to establish an Office of Sustainable Healthcare to reduce costs to Queensland Health in energy use and climate change emission.