The National Oral Health Policy, which has been in place for some time by the Federal Ministry of Health, will change the market dynamics in the Indian dental care market. The policy recognizes that oral health must be treated like any other serious health problem in the country. It emphasizes the importance of equality, integration, community participation, gender, prevention, promotion and research as key tools to be used in addressing the burden of oral diseases in India.
The policy is established to strengthen the oral health care delivery system at all levels to provide promotional, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services; To strengthen support for evidence generation, innovations and oral health policy implementation for control, reduction and prevention of risk factors for oral diseases; to encourage policy-oriented research, education, implementation and monitoring; and capacity building of service providers as well as public health facilities for the availability of skilled oral health care professionals and the provision of basic oral health care services.
The policy also aims to ensure that oral health is integrated into all policies in cross-sectional areas including national programs within the framework of policies related to health, education, labor and society; To identify centers of excellence at the national, regional and state levels to generate research innovations and evidence to advance the country’s oral health program; To support centers of excellence in various activities including capacity building of service providers in the states; To ensure regular monitoring and periodic evaluation of the oral health program to improve implementation and outcomes under the National Health Plan; Define roles and responsibilities at each level (national, state and regional) and establish achievable goals with oral health outcome measures defined at each level.
Of course, the policy is committed to regulating and monitoring dental education through a robust system through the appropriate government body in India. It will assist in the regulation of dental clinics as this policy supports guidelines as proposed under the Medical Institutions Act 2010 to provide quality oral health care services in all dental establishments through standard operating procedures. The policy will call for facilitating the establishment of a private dental clinic in rural and underserved areas.
The Policy supports compliance with standard treatment guidelines by medical and dental institutions as may be issued by the Central or State Government from time to time. It is clear that the National Oral Health Policy has been introduced to promote an enabling environment for all professionals and institutes who contribute positively to the provision of quality oral health care to the public. The policy clearly indicates the government’s positive intent to improve and upgrade oral health care services through the provision of cost-effectiveness and wider access in particular to all priority population groups.
There can be no two opinions about the impact of the policy as it will surely drive the market dynamics of the Indian dental care market which is undergoing rapid development. The landscape of dental materials and equipment market holds promising growth prospects. More automation has also accelerated easy access to information, making patients increasingly concerned about oral health. Therefore, the policy will enhance community participation as the focus is on the prevention of oral diseases. Like any other sector, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the dental care sector in India. A large number of dentists were out of work for a long time and that was a huge setback. Dentistry has been dealt a major blow due to the nature of its work that requires direct contact between the doctor and the patient as most procedures involve saliva and blood, which leads to the risk of infection transmission.
This resulted in non-emergency cases being postponed with only critical issues to be addressed that negatively impacted the patient’s health. Now, after Covid, the Indian dental care market is expected to grow by 20-30 per cent. Unfortunately, the distribution of dentists in urban and rural geographic areas of the country is skewed. Currently, private players dominate the market, and many startups are entering this field. All said and done, for the growth of the dental care sector in India, the need of the hour is dental insurance to address the financial pressures that the sector is currently facing, particularly due to the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Journalist with diverse experience in different fields.