Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sabah Toothless Politicians

Hantu Laut

I read a rather disturbing article posted in Lim Kit Siang's blog. A letter written by a dental surgeon who used to work as deputy director in the Dental Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Sabah.

If what he wrote is true, which I do not doubt at all, than Sabah leaders ought to be ashamed of themselves for the injustice and harm they have inflicted on the children of Sabah.They should put the money in their mouths.

I do know for sure the water supply was fluoridated during the colonial days when I was still a student at school.How,why and when the state government decided to cease the practice I have no idea. I was under the impression that our water is always fluoridated.

The letter below explains it all.

I served as the Timbalan Pengarah Kesihatan (Pergigian) for Negeri Sabah from August 1987 to Nov 1990, In short I was posted from Johore to Sabah to take charge of the Dental Service there.

In 1985 a Survey of Dental Health of the School Children in Sabah was carried out, and I was part of that team that conducted that survey. My team covered mainly the East Coast area of Lahad Datu, Semporna and Padang Tunku area.I was also a member of the Committee that drafted the Survey report, and the Committee made Recommendations for the improvement of the Status of Dental Health of the School Children of Sabah.One of the main recomendations was that all Public Water Supplies should be Fluoridated.

In 1989 the then Sabah State Government took the most Unfortunate step of ‘discontinuing the Fluoridation of Public Water supplies in the State of Sabah’ Because “Water” was a state matter, the Ministry of Health could not do anything besides presenting the Report of the Special Committee of the World Health Organisation’ that did indeed recommend the “Fluridation (the optimisation of Fluoride levels) of the Public Water Supplies.That Special Committee of the World Health Organisation also noted that ‘Fluoridation of Public water supplies was the Most Cost-Effective Public Health Measure known to man’. Read more.

Even more disturbing is the revelation by Deputy Health Minister Rosnah Abdul Rashid Sharlin who obviously was ill-advised and didn't bother to find out the real situation in Sabah.She told a completely different story.

Either she is ignorant out of sheer laziness, like many of our politicians, or lied to cover the inconvenient truth.Being a Sabahan she is an embarrassment.

Her press statement at Kota Kinabalu on 25 April 2010:

KOTA KINABALU: In Sabah, 70% to 87% of our piped water supply contains fluoride, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin

Hence, there is a need to step up the promotion on oral health through holistic approach by taking into account our lifestyle, she said at the launching of ‘Oral Health Month’ at Palm Square, Centre Point yesterday.

The month of April has been designated for promoting oral health whereby the Malaysian Dental Association (MDA) members from both private and government sectors will provide free dental check-ups nationwide at shopping malls at different dates.

“Even though fluoridation water is effective for preventing cavities, it has its limitation. Statistically, in Sabah, fluoride has been added in water treatment plants in Kota Kinabalu, Beaufort, Labuan and Kota Belud. It will be fruitless if the general public does not look after their.Read more.

The prevalent of dental fluorosis due to excessive fluoride should not be the reason to completely stopped adding it to the water supply.Adequate measure should be taken to ensure not more than the sufficient amount is added to the treated water supply.

So, who is the liar here?

It looks like the minister.

This new kid on the block simply read out a prepared speech probably drafted by her ministry staff with out checking the real situation in Sabah.

A study done by Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2008 in conjunction with American-Eurasian Journal of Agricultural & Environment Sci showed that P.S.Nathan was right in his exposure of the truth.

Below is an extract from the report.

Abstract: This study aimed at determining the mean concentration of fluoride in drinking water from nine sites
in Malaysia. Three sites were in Selangor, one each in Perak, Melaka, Kelantan, Terengganu and the Federal
Territory of Kuala Lumpur and one in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. A total of 689 households were chosen from which
a total of 2067 water samples were collected. They were obtained from two sources – treated piped water from
water treatment plants (WTPs) and groundwater extensively used for cooking and drinking purposes. Samples
were collected from pipes at homes or water buckets from wells. They were then stored in pre-cleaned HDPE
bottles and were analysed within the next 72 hours using a direct reading spectrophotometer model DR/2010
HACH Brand. Results showed that the mean concentration of fluoride in Sri Serdang, Selangor was the highest,
at 0.71 + s.d 0.12 mg/L, while the concentration of fluoride in the samples from Kota Kinabalu had the lowest
mean concentration of fluoride, at 0.08 + s.d 0.06 mg/L. Kelantan, Terengganu and Sabah states have ceased
fluoridation of treated water in the wake of higher cases of dental fluorosis amongst the population, which
explained the lowest mean concentration of fluoride from sites in these states. The mean concentrations of
fluoride in the majority of samples were lower than the concentration recommended by the health authorities
i.e. 0.5 – 0.7 mg/L, hence insufficient for eradicating dental caries. This was the main reason why fluoride has
been added into treated water. However, higher concentrations of fluoride i.e. 1 mg/L or more may alleviate the
occurrence of dental fluorosis, especially among children.

You can read the full report.Quick View

Not only Sabahans are given non-fluoridated water, we are also given turbid water most of the times that require heavy home filtration or boiling to make the water safe and drinkable.


Pok Kam said...

Dear HL,

I've been involved with water reticulation projects in several districts the last three years. In the course of my work, I have access to two of their water treatment plants. One was at Tambunan and also the new treatment plant in Nabalu.

I've noticed they have lime, chlorine and other chemicals required to treat the raw water before being released for consumption. It never crossed my mind then but I did not see any fluoride.

It's quite fortunate that most of our toothpaste available in the market contain fluoride, less our children and us too may find it hard to pronounce the word 's'.

eddy said...

Water treatment is a strange business in Malaysia Bro, first we need to know that in matters of water the Federal Government basically monitors and provide funding for water related infrastructure but the State has complete control and legal jurisdiction on all its water matters. I think the Federal Government is trying now to integrate this water treatment industry to be under one roof but that is another story.

We must know also that minute quantities of soluble fluoride maybe good for our teeth but unfortunately fluoride is also a known poison. It therefore has to be a balance and each state will decide whether its benefit far outweighs its dangers.

So each state Government actually decides what concentration if any fluoride is mixed to the treated water. Whether they decide to stop or continue the fluoride mix in treated water will really depend on the MOH, Government Doctors and Health practitioners advise. Apparently the Sabah Government may have taken the line that Fluride in any concentration is dangerous. I do not know.

However everybody who uses the normal commercial tooth paste every morning to brush their teeth will have their daily dosage of fluoride enough to protect their teeth from decay.

As for the turbid water, that is something the Sabah Jabatan Bekalan Air must answer for but as far as I know Malaysian treated water does comply with the WHO treated water standards generally.

1. EUROPE says NO http://homepage.tinet.ie/~fluoridefree/europe_say_no.htm

2. http://www.fluoridealert.org/hp-epa.htm


Anonymous said...

HL - this probably has nothing to do with politicians as there is no money involved.

I think that the state civil service is to blame for ignorance or indifference.....

either way the public is the one being screwed as usual!

Cheers - jay

Anonymous said...

Hey Jay, on this occasion maybe your politicians have done the basic research that shows there are huge risks from fluoride in drinking water especially in a very hot area like Sabah. And HL's simplistic references to 'optimal dose' and WHO recommendations shows the usual dental ignorance of science and medicine. How can a fluoride concentration in water be optimal if one does not control the amount of water consumed? This whole fluoridation debate is a charade , just look at Europe's rejection of this scientific nonsense and be thankful for your wise politicians this time>

Hantu Laut said...

It is fatuous to argue with people like you.

Which part of Europe or it is the whole continent has ceased using fluorided water.Please give me your reliable reference.

You certainly are smarter than WHO and the rest of the world.

Wake UP! said...

The government should follow the European countries where they can provide their people safe, drinking water that can be drink straight from the tap.

Illuminati:Banking and money group.