NEW guidelines to improve the wellbeing of animals used in scientific research have been released by the NHMRC.
The guidelines are thought to be the first of their kind in the world, and will also be distributed to research institutions in the UK, Asia and Europe.
“When it is necessary to study animals in medical research, all involved have an obligation to care for the animals in the best ways possible,” said NHMRC CEO Professor Warwick Anderson.
The new guidelines provided institutions with strategies to identify, minimise and manage pain and distress, in line with the national code of practice for animals used in scientific research, he said.
“Minimising pain and distress is obviously better for the animals, but it also increases the reliability and validity of research results,”Professor Anderson said.
The guidelines encouraged the use of the “three Rs”: the replacement of animal research with other types of research when possible; the reduction in the number of animals used in research and the refinement of techniques to minimise pain and distress.
Ms Glenys Oogjes, executive director of Animals Australia, which campaigns against animal testing, said the new guidelines were much needed to update the pain-relieving methods and enrichment strategies that research organisations should be using.
“But the issue remains that while we have these great documents, there is still no compulsory training for new and existing researchers on the laws and the best ways to reduce pain and distress,” Ms Oogjes said.
By Sue Osborne, Australian Doctor