Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) moved to reinstate the fluoridation of tap water after his predecessor halted it last year, Army Radio reported Sunday.
Litzman ordered the submission of an amendment to existing regulations that would restore fluoride in Israel’s water supply during a recent meeting in the Health Ministry.
Litzman’s decision was based on recommendations from professionals within and outside the Health Ministry, according to the Ynet news website. The proposed amendment will be submitted to the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee.
Water fluoridation, once deemed a safe and affordable way to ensure the public’s dental health, has become controversial in recent years after health professionals have called its efficacy and safety into question.
The previous health minister, Yael German, ordered last year that water fluoridation in Israel be discontinued after ministry officials warned that it posed a danger to public health.
The order, which went into effect in August 2014, was lauded by various rights groups, but criticized by many in the medical and dental communities as a serious mistake.
“Why must we force people to take medication against their will?” German (Yesh Atid) told Army Radio Sunday in response to Litzman’s directive.
“I advise Litzman [to deal with] the many serious problems in the healthcare system,” she said. “Instead of setting it back, let him deal with the real problems.”
Fluoride is commonly added to national water supplies by governments throughout the world in order to prevent tooth decay, but critics say overconsumption of the invisible, odorless, tasteless gas is a health hazard.
Israel originally mandated water fluoridation in 1970 for population centers with 5,000 or more residents and had successfully fluoridated 70 percent of the public’s water supply.