Biomedical institutions in Portugal, in a report published today, have shown an encouraging improvement in their openness in publicly discussing the use of animals in research.
The second evaluation report of the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal, (including 19 signatory institutions from both public and private biomedical research), showed that in 2021, despite the restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic, that they have continued to create more opportunities for the public to have easy access to accurate information on the use of animals in research. The implementation of the Agreement, co-ordinated by the European Animal Research Association (EARA) is based on four commitments, the first three of which refer to the promotion and improvement of internal and external communications by the signatory institutions, and the last which refers to the sharing of experiences and results.
All signatory institutions reported some evidence of proactive communication with the public about animal research, mainly through news shared on social media. The most notable achievements of improved openness and transparency in 2021 were:
- Almost all (95%) reported the publication of news about scientific discoveries, where animal models were used, as a proactive way of sharing information.
- 84% have a position statement about animal research available on their website – last year only just over half (53%) the institutions reported they had a statement.
- 78% mentioned conducting interviews in collaboration with the media.
- 79% mentioned the organisation of open days with space dedicated to animal experimentation.
Some examples of openness:
- Videos - Case Study- Sílvia Conde (NMS), Importance of Animal Experimentation and Animal Facility Tour (iCBR)
However, there are areas that require greater improvement:
· Around two thirds of the institutions (63%) provided images of the animals used in their research, although this was an increase from the previous report (41%).
EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, welcomed the report: “It is very good to see that Portuguese institutions are making great efforts to improve their communication with the public and bring greater awareness of the importance to society of biomedical research that uses animals.”
Ana Isabel Moura Santos, of NOVA Medical School, representative of the Portuguese Transparency Agreement said: “This agreement led to a change of culture in the signatory institutions, allowing the Portuguese Society to already have a lot of information available. We have scientists that are more prepared to talk about their research lines and to present their results for people outside the scientific community in a simpler and clearer way”.