The renewed demand for and interest in laboratory animals and animal related studies currently experienced in South Africa could be perceived as the turning point towards a more secure future for Laboratory Animal Science in this country. The latter scientific grouping still is an integral part of the South African scientific community and as such our future may be more secure. We must however not fool ourselves; rough spots will still be encountered from time to time.
Fortunately we do not have to start anew. The basic structures still exists, everybody in the field of laboratory animal science should endeavour to begin where we were left before the recession. Let us start to improve those resources what we still have. This does not only include our physical facilities and animals, but also our knowledge and attitude towards laboratory animal science. Let us not wait for opportunities to show themselves, rather join forces and create them.
Facts in our favour South Africa has the necessary natural resources and infrastructure.
There are still adequate qualified and experienced Laboratory Animal Technologists and researchers left in the country, people that could take the lead and continue from where we were left at the beginning of the recession.
The changes brought about in South Africa during the latter half of the 1990's made this country more acceptable to the international community. Specific interest is shown in the medicinal value of our indigenous plants and herbs, many of which are already used for centuries by our traditional healers. According to an article in Inpharma of 28 October 1995, 80% of the world's population exclusively use plants for the treatment of illness. In a press release (29 February 2000) Dr Prins Nevhutalu, Director: Corrective Action at the National Research Foundation, stated that; "An amount of R 10 million is available during 2000/2001 to support research development in the area of indigenous knowledge. We'll provide funding to South Africa's science community, including the science councils, for research in this important field Within the context of the African Renaissance, indigenous knowledge was identified as a pillar to drive the strategic direction of African development, especially the creation of jobs in rural communities." Research and knowledge of the pharmacologically active compounds can contribute towards a tremendous development in the field of traditional medicine.