Wellington Scoop

Concern at influence of health group on election process

Press Release – Dr. Stan Litras
Some district health board candidates are concerned that electoral laws are being breached by a government-funded pro-fluoridation group.

CCDHB candidates were invited to attend a meet the candidates meeting at St John’s Hall on Tuesday night organised by a group calling themselves the Public Health Association.

According to their annual report, the PHA has around 360 members, and receives health department funding of almost $400,000 annually, which is about 90% of their total funding.

The PHA rated the candidates predominantly on their views about water fluoridation, and in publicly circulating their preferred candidates ratings in pamphlets, website, and press releases are allegedly in breach of the Local Electoral Act, 2001, which forbids interfering with or influencing how people vote.

“They are attempting to direct people how to vote in a way that meets their own agendas, and this is a breach of the democratic process. They would like to stack the DHB board with candidates that share their pro-fluoridation bias”, says a candidate who did not wish to be named.

“Water fluoridation may be a topic the PHA is fanatic about, but DHB candidates have many more pressing issues on their plate, such as inadequate funding, cuts to services, overworked staff, poor access to care, and so on.”

“Any decisions made by the new DHB board members should be done with due diligence, public consultation and transparency. There is no place for bias and zealotry if the best interests of the public are to be served,” says Dr. Stan Litras, a dentist who is also a candidate whose views were not closely aligned to the PHA group’s agenda.

Dr. Litras, who spoke of the need to comply with WHO directives to monitor fluoride levels within the community, was concerned that while the PHA claims concern for closing ethnic inequities in health, they are unaware of the increased risk of harm to Maori and pacific island people from fluoride overdose.

Dr. Litras was also clear winner of the PHA general knowledge health quiz, beating oger Blakely in the final round on a question about child tooth decay treatment in hospitals.

“We have surgeons unable to operate in the wards because of poor air conditioning, mental health services stretched beyond capacity, doctors working 16 hour shifts, EDs being closed down, nursing staff being mugged because they can’t park their cars at the hospital, yet the health department sees fit to fund fringe groups like the PSA $400,000 a year to engage in undemocratic activities. You really have to ask why.”

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