12 Aug 2014

Israel - German ‘reneges’ on optional fluoridation of drinking water

Public health experts say health minister’s policy ignores years of research.

Health Minister Yael German.
Health Minister Yael German. Photo: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
Three leading public health and dental experts have accused Health Minister Yael German of going back on a commitment to make fluoridation of drinking water optional, according to a letter obtained by The Jerusalem Post, due to be sent to the minister on Tuesday.

Two months ago, the Health Ministry said that German had agreed to cancel her decision to prohibit fluoridation of drinking water around the country – and allow municipalities to decide independently if they wanted it. However, the deadline is due to end August 26 and German has yet to sign the regulation-change that would make it possible.

Her personal spokeswoman said this was due to “technicalities.”

Hebrew University School of Public Health emeritus Prof. Ted Tulchinsky, Hebrew University- Hadassah Dental Faculty Prof. Harold Sgan-Cohen and his colleague Dr. Yuval Vered said Monday that the minister’s defense of her position was based on “populist arguments, supported by amateur studies – and ignored dozens of years of research in Israel and the world [that absolutely showed] that there is no better health, economic and social substitute for adding fluoride to the tap water in Israel.”

They also accused German of “setting her policy based on a political and sectorial basis.”

Tulchinsky, who had held a senior public health position in the Health Ministry, said: “This is absolutely shocking arrogance.

The health minister has misled the Knesset and the public.

She has not consulted with the local authorities,” this will harm poor children, primarily in the peripheral communities of the country. “Banning fluoridation is an anti-social measure that will be a scar on her performance and [on] government colleagues who permitted her to initiate and allowed this travesty [to] take place.”

German opposed countrywide fluoridation as health minister since taking office, arguing that if adding the gas was needed “only” to protect children’s teeth from decay, then the entire population should not be exposed to it and other means should be used.

When German was mayor of Herzliya, she stopped fluoridation in her city. But her position on the matter was strongly opposed by the ministry’s top public health experts, who attempted to persuade her of the benefits of fluoridated water.....

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