Soon, ban on use of animals for research?

MCI could soon create an animal-free curriculum for graduate and post-graduate students.

Former Union Health Minister Shatrughan Sinha has written to the president of the Medical Council of India (MCI), urging the replacement of animal dissection and experimentation with non-animal training methods in all science courses. In the letter, Sinha points out alternatives, including cost-efficient computer-assisted learning, clinical exercises, and human-patient simulation technologies – training techniques that are already used in top medical schools worldwide.

Mumbai : Former Union Health Minister and Member of Parliament Shatrughan Sinha has written to the president of the Medical Council of India (MCI), urging the replacement of animal dissection and experimentation with non-animal training methods in all science courses.

In the letter, Sinha points out alternatives, including cost-efficient computer-assisted learning, clinical exercises, and human-patient simulation technologies – training techniques that are already used in top medical schools worldwide. “Animal dissection is a vestige of a crueller, less enlightened time before modern technology and teaching methods existed,” writes Sinha.

Senior officials from MCI said they had received Sinha’s letter and are taking it into consideration and would soon be creating an animal-free curriculum for graduate and post-graduate students.

Dr Jayshree Mehta, president, MCI, said they were positively working towards the suggestions sent by Sinha and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in the letter and will soon respond to him. “We had completely stopped using animals for experiments or in medical laboratories across country. We are working on creating virtual laboratories as a substitute, so that animals will not be used for research,” said Mehta.

Mostly, rodents, such as guinea pigs, rats and rabbits, are used in pharmacology departments to test the efficacy of medicines, cosmetics and during practicals, for post-graduate examinations. However, the dissection of animals for physiological courses is banned in Maharashtra.

“Moreover, in 2012, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change issued guidelines to the Medical Council of India, the Pharmacy Council of India, and the University Grants Commission to stop dissection and experimentation on animals entirely in the training of undergraduate and post-graduate students and to use only non-animal teaching methods,”Sinha added.

Dr Pravin Shingare, director, Directorate of Medical Education and Research, said animals are rarely used for pharmacology examinations of post-graduate students. “The work of virtual laboratories is completed in Mumbai and Pune and it is in process in other districts,” he said.

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