Advocacy body ready to help end animal testing in medical schools – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a US-based non-profit animal advocacy organization, has offered to help Pakistan implement humane practices in veterinary and medical schools and to end animal testing in Pakistan through a series of reforms.

The offer was made during a zoom meeting between the Prime Minister’s strategic reform adviser, Salman Sufi, and PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, the head of the Scientific Advancement and Outreach Division, the Dr. Katherine Roe, and Vice President of International Laboratory Methods Shalin Gala on July 22, 2022. .

PETA had approached Mr Sufi, after viral video footage revealed that veterinary students from at least three institutions in Pakistan were involved in inhumane practices on animals, such as operating on animals without anesthesia and denying them post-operative care despite excruciating pain.

On June 30, Salman Sufi announced a first set of landmark policy reforms that included a ban on the use of animals for live testing at any veterinary college or industrial complex in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

PETA says outdated and cruel tests in Pakistan must be replaced with non-animal methods

“This is a good start and we fully support this measure, and we agreed that more can and should be done as many veterinary schools are geographically outside of ICT and are not required to follow this new reform policy,” said PETA in a response.

He pointed out that Pakistan should issue a circular or regulatory reform that would explicitly adopt humane simulation training models for veterinary education and ban training methods that were not medically necessary and did not directly benefit animals. involved at the federal level or through the Veterinary Medical Council of Pakistan.

PETA cited many simulation models for basic and advanced veterinary and zoological training, such as the SynDaver Surgical Canine model, Critical Care Jerry and Critical Care Fluffy models, Virtual Animal Anatomy and Biosphera software, to avoid injury to pets. animals during training.

“As such, we are proposing a new collaboration with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Salman Sufi to help deliver advanced simulation models so Pakistani universities can transition to safe and humane veterinary education. We are currently working with Salman Sufi to gather information and do a needs assessment of universities with regards to acquiring simulation models so that we can better plan how to help them,” said Ms. Gala.

In response to questions about areas of collaboration with Pakistan, PETA shared other topics it was discussing with Mr. Sufi, such as modernizing medical education.

Shalin Gala said that prior to the establishment of the current Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC), PETA was in communication with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) to advise them on various reforms of their undergraduate medical program (or MBBS). ) to replace the use of animals nationwide with non-animal methods.

According to Ms Gala, PETA had advised them to adopt the wording of the proposed curriculum reform, stating that “no animal or animal part should be used for any aspect of the MBBS program, including, but not limited to, hands-on labs, learning objectives, content, teaching/learning strategy, teaching materials and assessments Only non-animal teaching, learning, demonstration and assessment methods should be used, such as didactic methods, interactive computer-aided learning (CAL), human patient simulators (HPS), human cadavers, supervised clinical practice or other non-animal models”.

This reform, if adopted, will also mirror similar reforms adopted internationally, she added.

“We would like Pakistan’s MBBS program to have the same standard of animal-free training and use modern simulation technology. We look forward to working with Salman Sufi to advance this strategic reform, which will bring Pakistan’s medical education system in line with the United States, Canada, India and others who no longer use animals for undergraduate medical education,” Ms. Gala said.

In 2014, following discussions with PETA India, the University Grants Commission in India issued a notification ending dissection and experimentation, for training purposes, in university and college courses in zoology and undergraduate and graduate life sciences, saving 19 million animals in this country alone from being killed and cut up for dissection every year.

PETA said its scientists look forward to working with Mr. Sufi on creating a national database in Pakistan for approved non-animal biomedical research and training methods, and on drafting regulatory language that says the use of animals for these purposes should be replaced by approved non-animal methods. methods that appear in the database.

It also aimed to help conduct scientific reviews of the effectiveness of animal use to identify other areas where such use had not improved human health, or where non-animal methods were now available. and could be removed quickly.

While technical skills are important, it is also of the utmost importance to inculcate a culture of care in veterinary training. Creating a dichotomy between animals used for training and pets seen in an exam room hasn’t benefited the veterinary profession, according to PETA.

“We are currently exploring ways to create materials relevant to Pakistani society and potentially integrating this compassion-building curriculum into current school curricula,” the animal rights organization said.

In response to a question about animal trafficking, PETA said Sufi mentioned his reform proposal to seize wild animals held in unsuitable living conditions and repatriate them to affected countries for rehabilitation.

Posted in Dawn, August 7, 2022

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