A major focus on alternatives in medicine and veterinary medicine, particularly in clinical skills and surgical training, is underway with InterNICHE outreach visits in Mexico, Portugal, Russia and Iran.

In Mexico, a highly successful seminar on alternatives featuring a detailed demonstration of the Pulsating Organ Perfusion (POP) trainer was held within the surgery department of a major medical faculty. Co-organised by Sofia Ponce, InterNICHE National Contact for Mexico, and the head of surgery, the 1 April event was attended by heads of department and senior and junior teachers from medical and veterinary medical surgery. There was major progress in openness towards and acceptance of innovative and humane learning tools, particularly concerning their pedagogical advantages over conventional animal experimentation. A similar event may soon be held in the veterinary faculty, followed by national-level training in specific medical procedures using the device.

A visit to another medical faculty involved the donation through the InterNICHE Humane Education Award of the Biopac Student Lab, a self-experimentation apparatus used for physiology practical classes that uses consenting students as the experimental animals. The annual use of over 30 dogs in severe experiments has now been ended. The faculty is exploring the roles of motivation, sensitisation and alternatives in addressing effective skills acquisition for the future doctor, and is actively supporting students’ own initiatives in the field of alternatives.

In conjunction with VITA, Russia’s animal rights group, InterNICHE had a booth and Nick Jukes gave a presentation to delegates at the 17th Moscow International Veterinary Congress held 16-18 April. The continuing collaboration between the organisers and InterNICHE / VITA is built on the common ground between veterinarians and animal protection organisations, and acknowledges the support given by the latter to veterinarians over the ketamine scandal in Russia.

In Portugal on 29 April, InterNICHE National Contact for Norway, Siri Martinsen, will address the National Seminar on Veterinary Teaching at Portuguese Veterinary Faculties, organised by the Portuguese Veterinary Chamber. With a focus on the diversity and quality of alternative tools and approaches available, Siri will also explore how care is an essential clinical skill that must be situated at the heart of any effective education and training program of a professional standard.

The first outreach work for humane education and alternatives within Iran is currently underway. Nick Jukes is an invited speaker at the 3rd International Symposium of Veterinary Surgery and 9th Iranian Symposium of Veterinary Surgery, Anesthesia and Radiology, being held from 25 to 28 April on Kish Island. Organised by the Iranian Veterinary Surgery Association (IVSA), Nick is giving a presentation and workshop, and hosting a Multimedia Exhibition with support from InterNICHE National Contact Sepehr Shafiezadeh, supportive teachers, and the new Iranian Anti-Vivisection Association (IAVA).

Following a very positive response from teachers at the congress, particularly to the clear potential to enhance the quality of training in clinical skills and surgery with alternatives like the mannekin Critical Care Jerry and the POP trainer, plans are now being made for visits to universities across the country immediately after the congress. Return visits for training in open surgery and laparoscopy, using perfused organs and cadavers, may also be organised.

Such events and future plans illustrate the success of collaboration between InterNICHE and teachers when focusing on the dual objectives of enhanced training and replacement of animal experiments. They also reflect a productive dynamic between international-level co-ordination on the one hand and the decentralised network of InterNICHE National Contacts and alternatives resources on the other.