New Delhi, July 28, 2023 – The Lok Sabha took a momentous stride today by passing the National Dental Commission Bill, 2023, marking a significant transformation in dental education and regulation across India. Introduced on July 24, 2023, the Bill aims to replace the outdated Dentists Act, 1948, and usher in a comprehensive framework for dental governance in the country.
Key Highlights of the Bill:
- Establishment of the National Dental Commission (NDC): The NDC will be the principal regulatory body, consisting of 33 members, with a distinguished and experienced dentist appointed by the central government as its head. This appointment will be based on recommendations from a search-cum-selection committee. The NDC will take charge of regulating dental education, examinations, and training. Additionally, it will assess infrastructural needs in dental healthcare and ensure that admissions to Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) courses are conducted through the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).
- Formation of Three Autonomous Boards: Under the supervision of the NDC, three autonomous boards will be constituted to oversee different aspects of dental education and standards:
- Undergraduate and Postgraduate Dental Education Board: This board will be responsible for determining education standards, curriculum development, and granting recognition to dental qualifications.
- Dental Assessment and Rating Board: Tasked with assessing compliance procedures for dental institutions, granting permissions for new institutions, and conducting inspections and ratings.
- Ethics and Dental Registration Board: This board will maintain online national registers of dentists and dental auxiliaries, oversee license suspensions/cancellations, and regulate professional conduct and ethics.
- State Dental Councils: The Bill mandates that state governments establish State Dental Councils within a year of the Act’s enactment. These councils will receive and address grievances related to professional misconduct against registered dentists and maintain state registers of dentists/dental auxiliaries.
- NEET for Admission and National Exit Test (Dental): Admission to BDS courses will be determined through NEET, and a National Exit Test (Dental) will be introduced in the final undergraduate year. The National Exit Test will serve as a licensing examination, an enrollment criterion in state/national registers, and a prerequisite for admission to postgraduate dental education.
- Dental Advisory Council: The central government will form the Dental Advisory Council, which will play a vital role by providing valuable insights to the NDC on education, training, and research standards. Moreover, the Council will strive to facilitate equitable access to dental education. It will be chaired by the National Dental Commission’s Chairperson and include ex-officio members from the Commission.
The passage of the National Dental Commission Bill, 2023, on July 28, 2023, represents a significant step towards modernizing dental education and regulation in India. By establishing comprehensive governance and implementing rigorous assessment processes, the nation aims to enhance the quality of dental care and strengthen the dental profession in the years to come. The Bill will now proceed to the Rajya Sabha for further deliberation and approval before becoming law.