After heated opposition over government’s proposal to let AYUSH practitioners practise modern medicine, India’s policy think tank NITI Aayog is now exploring the option of allowing dentists to practice family medicine through a bridge course.
The proposal has already received a nod from Prime Minister Office (PMO) on 9 April 2019. According to officials in the ministry of health and family welfare, the notion is to scale up the medical education in India. “In the said meeting it has been inter-alia decided to explore the option of allowing dentists to practise family medicine/main stream medicine following a bridge course. Accordingly, a meeting to discuss issues on leveraging dentists to provide primary health care thereby reducing the gaps of current shortfall of doctors in the country is scheduled to be held on 22 April 2019," stated Jyoti Khattar, senior research officer (Health) in her letter to Dental Council of India (DCI). Mint has reviewed the letter.
“Considering the B.D.S syllabus, course curriculum, methodology of developing clinical skills during the training pattern of examination, there is no doubt that graduates are completely trained for dental /oral comprehensive health care," said Dibyendu Mazumdar, president, Dental Council of India (DCI).
“Large number of dentist population available which are taught basic medical subjects, and Dentistry being a part of allopathy it is right time for the dental council of India to utilize human resources for dual purpose, that is a health professional who is capable of extending dental as well as medical health care. Also, utmost care is taken to bridge the training gap in theory and clinical exposure for a B.D.S level and M.B.B.S level completely," he said.
DCI had proposed a post B.D.S Medical bridge course with duration of 3 years. As far as the eligibility criteria, B.D.S graduates recognised by Dental Council of India will only be eligible for bridge course. The admission will be given either through common entrance or through cumulative B.D.S marks or merit can be decided considering 50% of cumulative BDS marks and 50% of common entrance. According to DCI, the syllabus curriculum, scheme of examination, method of evaluation, awarding degree and their registration all these criteria will be same as recommended for M.B.B.S course by MCI.
According to union health ministry, there is less than one doctor for every 1000 population in India which does not meet the World Health organisation (WHO) standards. As per WHO, the doctor population ratio should be 1:1000. The data also shows that more than 65% of health professionals are available in urban part of India for 31% of population, whereas in rural areas 33% of health professionals are available for 70% of population.
As on today on yearly basis more than 30,000 dentist pass, out of which 3000-4000 go for post graduate education in country, whereas some go abroad or practise as dentist or some opt for different profession. DCI also considered the recent surveys that show that there is lot of insecurity in graduate profession not only for this purpose but on background of oral health awareness ratio among the Indian population.
“On the available health care human resources especially in terms of doctor population ratio, particularly in rural part of India, this post BDS Medical Bridge course will train the dentist to avail the opportunities and be able to conduct professional requirements to provide medical health care as an additional skilled health care performance," said Anil K Chandna, member, DCI.
“This course design is such that it takes care of socioeconomical background, literacy ratio, aspect of poverty, pattern of disease, the changing lifestyle, health priority and access to general health as well as dental health," he said.