Rahman SZ, Rahman A, Salman T, Khan RA. Students’ Conscience and the Trend in Animal Utilisation for Teaching and Research – Before and After the CPCSEA. Poster session presented at: Alternatives in the Mainstream: Innovations in Life Science Education and Training. 2nd InterNICHE Conference; 2005 May 12-15; Oslo, Norway


The issue of discomfort from students while being taught with animal models for training and skills has always been present. We did a survey by taking a sample of students from the second year medical (MBBS) course. We asked each to give their opinion on the following two points. 1. Does your conscience allow animal experiments for skills and training? 2. If not, suggest ways to improve the practical classes.

29 students from 68 stated “No” for the first question and suggested other methods as alternatives for animal experiments for skills and training, with 27 of these believing that multimedia might be one option. 28 students from 68 were in favour of animal experiments and 8 were in the favour of both, commenting that animal experiments could be complemented by multimedia. 3 students were undecided. It has been noted (1) that open discussion with students about animal experiments in education often evidences greater discomfort or disagreement with the practice than is suggested by the relatively low number of students prepared to conscientiously object through outright refusal to perform experiments.

Corresponding to the interest in alternatives expressed by students, the number of animal experiments for undergraduate teaching and scientific research in our Department of Pharmacology from 1990 to 2004 has been declining. The significant reduction in animal experiments was observed soon after the implementation of the Indian Government’s Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) recommendations. Before the Committee, every student was supposed to perform animal experiments. Although for rabbit-gut preparations only 2-3 rabbits were sacrificed in a class of 35-40 students per week, experiments on frog heart preparation involved one frog per student. Frogs were liberally available during the classes for all medical colleges in India.

Presently, the teaching in our department is being upgraded by incorporating CAL, the use of modern audio-visual aids, and Problem Based Learning. In practical classes for undergraduate teaching, we demonstrate animal experiments to groups of 10 students once per month. Teachers are expected to perform the experiments with minimum suffering caused to animals. In the remainder of the practical classes, we use alternatives. Furthermore, the use of animals in research has been shifted from Experimental Pharmacology to Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacovigilance (ADR Monitoring)

1. Balcombe J. The Use of Animals in Higher Education: Problems, Alternatives and Recommendations. Humane Society Press, Washington DC. 2000