June 30, 2010

Health ministry panel to examine Dental Council decisions

Not a single new dental college has been given permission to start undergraduate dental course this year. Around 45 new colleges, 95% of which were private, had applied to the Dental Council of India (DCI) seeking permission to start new admissions. But the applications of all of them were rejected on grounds that they did not have enough faculty to run a dental college or enough clinical matter to teach students on. On the other hand, the registration of nearly 42 dental colleges, which are already running for the past few years, have also not been renewed.

The Union health ministry has now set up a four-member technical committee — director general of health services Dr R K Srivastava, Dr Naseem Shah and Dr O P Kharbanda from the department of dentistry at AIIMS and Dr Ashok Autreja from PGI Chandigarh — which will see whether these colleges really lacked infrastructure and faculty.

The committee is undertaking "personal hearing" with all these colleges and will give its report to the ministry on Saturday. If some colleges show merit, their application will be sent back to the DCI for a relook. "Since the applications of so many colleges were rejected, the ministry decided to set up a committee to look into the matter," said a ministry official.

Speaking to TOI, DCI chief Dr Anul Kohli said, "Most of the colleges were rejected for failing to comply with the rules regarding faculty and clinical matter under the Dentistry Act. However, the last date for considering an application is July 15 till which time a college can make changes and get a clearance. As of now, not a single new college has been given permission to start courses."

According to Dr Kohli, India does not require new dental colleges. "There is hardly any employment opportunity for dentists in India. We must not open new dental colleges anymore but accreditate the old ones under three categories — doing well, can improve and bad. Colleges coming under the last category should be shut down."

At present, India has 290 dental colleges with 22,000 seats. Of these, 88% are private and 12% are run by the government. According to the Council's senior members, dental education has become a lucrative business that is diluting quality dental education in India. "There is a serious dearth of visiting faculty. It has become a lucrative business to start a new dental college. This clearly explains the sudden increase in the number of dental colleges applying for permission to DCI," Dr Kohli said.

The Council has now made it mandatory for professors teaching in UG level to stay in the same college for at least one year while those teaching the PG level must do so for three years. It has also made continuing medical education or CME mandatory for 20 hours a year and 100 hours for 5 years.

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