Three-and-a-half decades after the last government dental college and hospital was established, the Maharashtra government is planning to start such institutions in state-run medical colleges.
Senior officials from the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) said they were considering new government dental colleges at the premises of 11 medical colleges in Pune, Dhule, Ambejogai (Beed), Latur, Nanded, Yavatmal, Akola, Chandrapur, Gondia, Miraj and Kolhapur.
A dental college has also been proposed at the Greenfield medical hub at Jalgaon, which will offer courses in medicine, dentistry, ayurveda, homeopathy, nursing and paramedics. With each dental college likely to have 100 seats, these facilities may have an intake of 1,200 seats for the Bachelors in Dentistry (BDS) course.
'The plan, which is at the primary stage, includes starting dental colleges in government medical colleges. In the first phase, we are planning to cover BJ Medical College in Pune, Chandrapur Medical College and the Jalgaon medical hub,' the official said, adding that each college would need a Rs 125 crore investment in five years.
Maharashtra has 38 dental colleges of which just four, including three run by the state government and one by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) — are in the public sector with the rest being private unaided institutions and deemed universities.
Though these dental colleges have 3,500 seats for BDS, the intake in government and civic-run institutions is just 260. This includes 100 seats in the Government Dental College and Hospital in Mumbai, 50 each at Nagpur and Aurangabad and 60 at the BMC-run Nair Hospital dental college. The number of post-graduate seats in Maharashtra is 300.
The official said according to the Dental Council of India's (DCI) norms, it was essential for new dental colleges to be located in proximity to a government medical college (for training students in medicine and surgery).
Dr Mansingh Pawar, Dean, Government Dental College and Hospital, Mumbai, who is a member of the DCI, said they planned to commission these colleges in phases with one each being established initially in the six revenue divisions.
However, DMER and health department official admitted that there was an oversupply of dentists in metros with few professionals choosing to work in rural areas.
A DMER official said that while dental colleges, especially those in the private sector, saw vacant seats due to students preferring medicine over dentistry, this problem was less acute in government-run institutions. Public sector dental hospitals will reduce pressures on existing government-run institutions. For instance, the Government Dental College and Hospital, Mumbai, handles around 2,000 patients daily.