The Second Animal Care and Use in Research Education and Testing (ACURET) Workshop on Laboratory Animal Welfare in Developing Countries has been held at the Sasakawa Centre in the University.
The workshop which attracted participants from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Ghana and the United States of America sought to bring to the fore the need to apply and enforce ethical regulations in the handling of animals used for research.
The theme for the workshop was: “Advancing Science: Assuring Responsible Use in Animal Based Experimentation in Developing Countries”.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, said the level of institutional animal care in developing countries was limited. It was, therefore, appropriate for the workshop to come out with procedures that would make institutions function competently in the handling of animals for laboratory work.
Prof. Ghartey said the University through teaching and learning was ensuring responsible use of laboratory animals and for that matter staff and students were looking forward to build capacity and network through the workshop and for that reason was excited to be hosting the workshop. The Vice-Chancellor mentioned that ethics was really important in research and institutions must respect that by being fair and observing the right practices required for using both animals and human beings for research.
“Many scientists fall foul to this by doing anything to animals as done in their homes. We should rather follow protocol in dealing with animals. In doing our research, UCC must pay attention to ethics, the VC, Provost, Deans, HoDs must write these protocols, we will insist on that, the lackadaisical attitudes towards ethics must cease”, he noted.
Delivering the keynote address, Prof. Felix Dapara Dakora, urged ACURET to do more for West Africa so that scientists and the people at large would show more love to these animals. “You need to create more branches in ECOWAS and across Africa to educate and create more awareness on these issues”, he said.
Prof. Dakora said ethics was about moral and immoral living about right or wrong and urged participants to behave in more ethical manner as they carried out their research works. “As young scientists you need to know that, there are no short cuts to life, you need to sweat it out to succeed”, he advised.
Prof. Dakora said years ago, it was thought that animals were solely meant for food, so we could do anything to them, but things have changed and there was the need to have some amount for animal and apply same to them when they were brought to the laboratory.
The President of the African Academy of Sciences, said: “We have to recognize that the low level of research accounts for what we do to animals not only in the open, but in the laboratory as well”.
He said ethics committees existed in public universities in Africa to evaluate human participants in research and clinical trials but not for non-humans. He again, mentioned that there was no legislation and trained personnel to handle animal care in most African countries.