Government introduces 2 new Health Bills in Parliament

New Delhi: The government on Monday introduced two health Bills — National Dental Commission Bill, 2023 and National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill, 2023 — in Parliament.

The Bills seek to repeal Dentists Act, 1948 and Indian Nursing Council Act, 1947, and propose to form regulatory bodies for dentists and nurses and midwives on the lines of the National Medical Commission (NMC), with autonomous boards for undergraduate and postgraduate education, assessment and rating board, and an ethics and registration board that will look at different aspects of dental and nursing education. Both the Bills also have a provision for creating live national registers.

Medical professionals currently need to register with their respective state councils. The registers created under the new Bills will be dynamic, with the state and the national registers syncing automatically, and qualifications of the professionals will be updated from time to time.

The National Dental Commi-ssion Bill will make provision for a exit test for dentists on the lines of the National Exit Test that is likely to be implemented for those completing MBBS from the next batch.

Although many welcomed the departure from the Dentists Act, 1948, experts say it will lead to more government control on the decisions of the regulatory body.

An expert, on condition of anonymity, said: “The president of the dental council is currently elected by the general body. The key officials for the proposed regulatory body will be nominated by the government. This will lead to more say by the government in the regulation of education in the field. The advantage, on the other hand, is that persons can hold the key positions for a maximum of four years. The Bill also states that no one over the age of 70 years can hold these positions.”

Anil Kumar Chandna, executive committee member of Dental Council of India, said: “All the ongoing work to develop an international-level curriculum will continue even if the new commission takes over.”

Dr O P Kharbanda, former head of Centre for Dental Education and Research at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, said: “We hope it brings the required change in regulating the profession towards quality education and need-based research in Indian context. India also needs to create more jobs for dental surgeons in public healthcare system.”

The National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill, other than creating a new regulatory framework, also aims to define the scope of practice. Dileep Kumar, president of Indian Nursing Council, said: “First, it includes midwives in the very name of the Bill that the current Act (Indian Nursing Council Act, 1947) does not. Second, and the most important development, the Bill aims to create scope of practice for nurses in different specialties. It gives a legal backing to nurses to perform certain procedures or give medicines in specific instances. At present, institutional guidelines are followed so there is no unity in the role of a nurse across institutions. This is a big step.”(With inputs from agencies)