Parliament passed the National Dental Commission Bill, 2023. The bill aims to provide quality and affordable dental education by regularizing the dental profession in the country.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 28, 2023 while by the Rajya Sabha on August 8, 2023.
The Dentists Act, 1948 will be repealed by this bill. It provides for the constitution of National Dental Commission, Dental Advisory Council and three autonomous boards to regulate standards of dental education and dentistry. The salient features of the Bill are as follows:
The Central Government is required to constitute a National Dental Commission consisting of 33 members. It will be headed by a reputed and experienced dentist. The Chairperson shall be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Search-cum-Selection Committee.
The search committee will be headed by the cabinet secretary. The ex-officio members of the commission include:-
Chairman of the three Autonomous Boards,
Director General of Health Services,
Head of Dental and Educational Research Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Part-time members of the commission include:
Dental Faculty of Government Institutions and
Representatives of States and Union Territories.
The functions of the commission include:
To regulate governance standards for dental education, examination and training,
Regulating dental institutions and research,
Assessing infrastructure needs in dental health care, and
Ensuring admission to Bachelor of Dental Surgery is through the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).
The central government is required to constitute three autonomous boards under the supervision of the commission. Boards are:
Undergraduate and Postgraduate Dental Education Board - responsible for setting education standards, developing curricula and accrediting dental qualifications,
Dental Assessment and Rating Board – responsible for setting the compliance assessment process for dental institutions, granting permission to set up new institutions, and conducting inspections and ratings, and
Ethics and Dental Registration Board – responsible for maintaining online national registers of dentists/dental assistants, suspending/revoking licenses and regulating standards of conduct, ethics and scope of practice.
The establishment of a new dental institute shall require prior permission of the Assessment and Rating Board. Qualifications in Dentistry recognized under the Dentists Act, 1948 will continue to be recognized.
Within one year of the Act coming into force, the State Governments are required to set up State Dental Councils. Councils are required to receive complaints relating to professional/ethical misconduct against registered dentists. They are also required to maintain state registers of dentists/dental assistants.
Admission to Bachelor of Dental Surgery course will be done through NEET.
The commission will specify the manner of conducting common counseling for undergraduate and postgraduate admissions.
A National Exit Test (Dental) will be conducted in the final graduation year:
Grant license to practice dentistry,
Enrollment in state/national registers, and
For admission to postgraduate dental education.
Till the Bill is passed, postgraduate admissions in Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) will be conducted through NEET.
The Central Government is required to constitute a Dental Advisory Council. The Council will advise the Commission on education, training and research standards and increasing equitable access to dental education.
The Council will also be the primary forum through which the States/UTs can raise their concerns before the Commission.
The Council will be chaired by the President of the National Dental Commission. The ex-officio members of the Commission shall also be the ex-officio members of the Council.
Responding to a question on this bill, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya informed that the number of MBBS course seats in the country has crossed one lakh seven thousand. Before the year 2014, it had 54 thousand seats. Along with this, the number of medical colleges has also increased from 350 to 704.