Mint Explainer: Two new bills seek to reform nursing and dentistry

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New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Friday passed the National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill, 2023 and the National Dental Commission Bill, 2023, which seek to regulate nursing and dental education and practice. These bills will replace the Indian Nursing Council Act, 1947 and the Dentists Act, 1948.

The legislative changes are significant as they seek to bring greater transparency and quality to the fields of nursing, midwifery and dentistry. Mint takes a closer look at the two bills.

What is the National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill, 2023?

The bill seeks to regulate and maintain standards of education and services in nursing and midwifery, assess institutions, maintain national and state registers, and create systems to improve access, research and development, and the adoption of technology in nursing and midwifery.

Why did the Indian Nursing Council Act, 1947 have to be repealed?

The Indian Nursing Council Act, 1947 was enacted to constitute the Indian Nursing Council, which established a standard of training nurses, midwives and other such health workers. However, the said act went through minimal amendments and ended up limiting the growth of professionals.

The National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill instead aims to set up a National Nursing and Midwifery Commission (NNMC) to achieve its goals. Quality education in nursing and midwifery is essential to redefine the scope of these professions. According to the Indian Nursing Council, India had around 33.41 lakh registered nurses as of 2022.

What is the National Dental Commission Bill, 2023?

The bill seeks to provide quality and affordable dental education, make high-quality dental care widely accessible and bring it at par with global standards. According to the government data, India has 2.89 lakh registered dentists.

Why did the Dentists Act, 1948 have to be replaced?

The National Medical Commission under the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 aims to reform dental education dentistry. Therefore, the government expert panel recommended the establishment of a National Dental Commission in place of the Dental Council of India and the creation of autonomous boards under the National Dental Commission to oversee various functions of the profession.

What will the National Dental Commission do?

The commission will have three autonomous boards — an Undergraduate and Postgraduate Dental Education Board to regulate dental education; a Dental Assessment and Rating Board to assess and rate dental institutions and carry out inspections; and an Ethics and Dental Registration Board to regulate professional conduct and promote amongst dentists.

It will also oversee a uniform National Exit Test (Dental) to grant dentistry licences, enrol in the State Register or National Register; seek admission to postgraduate dental courses, and seek recognition of Indian dental qualifications outside India.

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