Ya'acov Litzman, the deputy health minister.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
As part of his cancellation of decisions made by his predecessor, former health minister MK Yael German, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman has decided in principle to restore fluoridation of the country’s drinking water.
German decided to prohibit the addition of fluoride to potable water soon after taking office two years ago, against the professional advice of public health and dental experts who said it would endanger children’s teeth.
Her decision against fluoridation was opposed by many mayors and heads of local authorities concerned about the fact that lack of fluoride in the water would damage the teeth of children, especially the poor whose parents didn’t know about cavity prevention or couldn’t afford special toothpaste or dental care. Some of the burden of repairing their teeth would then fall on the shoulders of local government.
Leading academics in dental medicine and public health even submitted a petition against her and the ministry to the High Court of Justice in an effort to abrogate the law she pushed through the Knesset.
It is to be heard on July 15.
Prof. Jonathan Mann, former dean of the Hebrew University- Hadassah School of Dental Medicine and now head of its department of community dentistry, told The Jerusalem Post Sunday that the fluoride-delivering equipment of each municipality is still in “good, workable condition” and can be functional as soon as the Knesset passes new regulations to restore fluoridation.
Litzman said that a new amendment to abrogate German’s regulation prohibiting fluoridation will be presented to the Knesset’s Interior and Environmental Protection Committees as soon as they are established. The restoration of fluoridation, said the deputy minister, “is an important act to advance dental health in Israel.”
After German decided on the prohibition, Hebrew University School of Public Health emeritus Prof. Ted Tulchinsky, Hebrew University-Hadassah Dental Faculty Prof. Harold Sgan-Cohen, and colleague Dr. Yuval Vered charged that German’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.”
The former health minister from Yesh Atid voiced her disappointment on Sunday against Litzman’s announcement.