Addressing oral health disparities, inequity in access and workforce issues in a developing country


Correspondence to:

Dr Abhinav Singh, MDS,

Assistant Professor & Head,

Department of Public Health Dentistry,

ESIC Dental College & Hospital, Sector 15 Rohini, New Delhi 110089, India.




The health sector challenges in India like those in other low and middle income countries are formidable. India has almost one-third of the world's dental schools. However, provisions of oral health-care services are few in rural parts of India where the majority of the Indian population resides. Disparities exist between the oral health status in urban and rural areas. The present unequal system of mainly private practice directed towards a minority of the population and based on reparative services needs to be modified. National oral health policy needs to be implemented as a priority, with an emphasis on strengthening dental care services under public health facilities. A fast-changing demographic profile and its implications needs to be considered while planning for the future oral health-care workforce. Current oral health status in developing countries, including India, is a result of government public health policies, not lack of dentists. The aim of the article is to discuss pertinent issues relating to oral health disparities, equity in health-care access, dental workforce planning and quality concerns pertaining to the present-day dental education and practices in India, which have implications for other developing countries.