'Bring back fluoride' doctors say
QUEENSLAND doctors are urging Mackay council to introduce fluoride into its water supply as statewide dental decay hits extreme levels.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia said the estimated 800,000 Queenslanders without fluoridated water were being denied access to a "major public health" amenity.
Dr Dhupelia said there was overwhelming scientific evidence dismissing the claims of anti-fluoridation advocates and promoting the health benefits of fluoridated water.
He said Queensland-based studies had revealed the introduction of fluoride into the water could reduce the rate of tooth decay in children and teenagers by 26-44 per cent, and 27 per cent in adults.
Dr Dhupelia said the adverse health impacts of multiple council's decision to remove fluoride were now evident.
"Some of the largest regional centres in Queensland removed fluoride from their drinking water ... (and) 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 reported that more than two in five Mackay children aged five to six had experienced dental decay in 2014-2017.
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.
Mackay Regional Council did not indicate it would make any changes to the water supply.
Council CEO Craig Doyle said the decision to remove fluoride from the water supply in November 2016 was made after extensive community consultation, including a telephone survey, a community forum and online consultation.
Dr Dhupelia called on the council to reconsider its decision in light of the public health evidence.
The AMA 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.
Dr Dhupelia said water fluoridation was not financial prohibitive, costing between 60 cents and $1 per person, per year.
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