The Union health ministry has commissioned the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to conduct a national survey to determine India’s oral diseases burden, including mouth cancers, according to people aware of the development.

The survey will be supervised by a committee set up last month with representatives from AIIMS, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, and Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, New Delhi. The survey is a part of the health ministry’s oral and dental health policy to identify gaps in dental education, human resources and treatment.

“The dental policy is on the lines of National Health Policy for Oral Health, and the draft has been circulated within the ministry for views. Once it gets approved by the relevant departments, it will put out for public consultation in a month or so,” said a health ministry official, requesting anonymity. “There are no India specific policies on oral and dental health. There was a need to bring everything related to oral and dental health under a single umbrella, which is what introducing this policy will achieve,” said the official.

A two-day workshop with all stakeholders was conducted at AIIMS in Delhi last month. “We have had three workshops to finalise the draft with experts from multiple disciplines. It is an all-encompassing policy related to oral health,” said Dr OP Kharbanda, chief, Centre for Dental Education and Research, AIIMS.

The health ministry has identified the CDER as the National Centre for Excellence for oral and dental health. “The policy will also track market trends and determine which oral health products are really needed. Promoting preventive oral health will be the backbone of the policy,” said Dr Kharbanda.

Once the policy is notified, the ministry will work on a national strategic implementation framework with detailed implementation points. “The draft policy will be out for public consultation in about a month or so,” said the ministry official.

“Having a policy helps in putting the focus on the problem. We need more adequately trained experts to deal with the disease burden,” said Dr Manish Vishen, a Delhi-based dentist.