Indian Parliament approves National Dental Commission Bill

The Indian Parliament has passed the National Dental Commission Bill, 2023, on 8 Aug in a step towards enhancing healthcare quality and aligning dental education with global standards. This legislation underscores the government’s “unwavering commitment to ensuring the highest standards of dental care for its citizens,” said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in a press release.

The National Dental Commission Act 2023 will introduce a regulatory framework by establishing the National Dental Commission (NDC), which will replace the existing Dental Council of India (DCI) and repeal the Dentists Bill, 1948. The release adds that act “envisions a complete overhaul of the dental education and profession landscape to bring it on par with international benchmarks”.

The approved NDC is set to enhance both domestic and international dental care standards (Image: PTI)

The bill piloted by Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, which was passed by voice vote after a brief discussion in the Rajya Sabha, contains eight key features.

First, it establishes the NDC and mandates the formation of State Dental Councils or Joint Dental Councils. The structure aims to decentralise authority and enhance effective regulation. Second, the act will empower three distinct autonomous boards — the Under-Graduate and Post-Graduate Dental Education Board, the Dental Assessment and Rating Board (DARB), and the Ethics and Dental Registration Board (EDRB) — which will carry out specific functions to contribute to a comprehensive regulatory framework. Third, it introduces a fixed tenure for the chairperson, members, and secretary of the commission, with no possibility of reappointment.

Fourth, act will encourage partnerships with industry and institutions to promote advancements in dental research. Next, it will provide for maintaining an online and live National Register of licensed dentists and dental auxiliaries and establishes a Dental Advisory Council with representation from all states or union territories to ensure comprehensive insights and guidance.

Additionally, the NDC will be led by a ‘selected’ regulator which entails the appointment of the NDC chairman and members through a merit-based selection process conducted by a Search–cum-Committee chaired by the cabinet secretary. Furthermore, it will facilitate joint sittings with relevant statutory bodies, including the National Medical Commission, Pharmacy Council of India, Indian Nursing Council, National Commission for Indian System of Medicine, National Commission for Homeopathy, and National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions.

Lastly, act will empower the commission to frame guidelines for fee determination for 50% of seats in private dental colleges and deemed universities.

“The NDC Act 2023, is poised to usher in vital regulatory reforms in the dental education sector. It champions transparency, accountability, and professionalism to safeguard the interests of the public,” said the MoHFW. “By promoting affordable oral healthcare availability and boosting the employability of Indian dental professionals globally, the commission is set to enhance both domestic and international dental care standards.”