Animal ethics refers to the manner in which animals should be treated by human beings (Sandøe & Christiansen 2013). The term also refers to human-animal relationships. From a health care system perspective, the term involves various aspects, such as animal law, animal cognition and animal rights, among others (Korte, Olivier & Koolhaas 2007). Currently, there are many changes in relation to climate ethics, neuroscience, and bioethics, which imply that the health care sector should aim at adopting measures that can go a long way in promoting animal wellbeing and ethics. This paper focuses on discussing various aspects of animal ethics from a viewpoint of a holistic health care system.
The quality of life of nonhuman animals was one of the reasons why research on animal welfare was started. In fact, the concept of animal welfare is closely related to ethical concerns in the health care sector. About the quality of life of animals, three overlapping ethical concerns should always be put into consideration (Sandøe & Christiansen 2013). First, animals should use their natural adaptations that should characterise their natural lives. In the absence of natural adaptations, it would imply that animals are subjected to environments that may negatively impact them. Second, nonhuman animals should not be exposed to states of fear and pain, but they should be subjected to normal pleasures, which would improve their health outcomes. Third, animals should have good trends of growth and normal physiological functions, which correlate with excellent health outcomes. It is important to note that a balanced diet is essential for achieving good health care.
Notably, the subject of animal morals is a complex one due to the fact that there is much resistance from animal rights activists who argue that creatures should not be mistreated or mishandled by humans (Korte et al. 2007). In fact, some animal rights activists state that they should not be utilised in the health care sector to support research. On the other hand, health care professionals maintain that animals should be used to promote human health by supporting medical research. Notably, they are used for various tasks, such as supporting therapies, i.e., laboratory animals are applied in testing of new drugs. Another use of animals in the health care system is to provide security, such as the use of dogs (Korte et al. 2007).
The field of climate ethics has profound effects on the lifestyles of animals. Research has shown that human-induced climate variations bring about many ethical questions, which should be addressed so that animals can be cared for in the right manner (Korte et al. 2007). It has been shown that both gradual and rapid variations in global climate can negatively impact both humans and nonhumans. Thus, in order to have a world whereby there are good care and treatment for nonhuman animals, it would be critical to minimise the number of activities that would result in climate changes.
The field of neuroscience is important in understanding some aspects in relation to nonhuman animals. The field is “concerned with the scientific study of the nervous system” (Ideland 2009, p. 260). A thorough understanding of the nervous system of nonhuman animals goes a long way in making people handle creatures in ways that do not activate pathways that are responsible for pain. From a holistic perspective, it is worth to note that animals have similar senses to those of humans. Therefore, their nervous systems are similar.
It has been shown that many issues related to animal ethics are in the context of bioethics, which concentrates on studying controversial ethics caused by advances in the field of medicine (Ideland 2009). If applied to understanding the treatment of animals by man, bioethics can focus on many areas, such as euthanasia, organ donation and veterinary services. Animal bioethicists contend that animals should be offered the most appropriate forms of treatment, which cannot result in ethical issues (Ideland 2009).
All persons who handle nonhuman animals should be typified by feelings of love, which would help to ensure they are cared for in the right way. It would be unethical to mishandle creatures because they do not have the same capabilities with man. Caring for creatures involves several aspects. For example, they should be provided with proper shelter and adequate food, which would make them have excellent health care outcomes. In addition, they need to be provided with medical care when they are sick (Wolfensohn & Lloyd 2013). Even when they appear healthy, they should be vaccinated so that they cannot be affected by common illnesses.
Buddhism is one of the religions across the world that emphasise on animal ethics. Buddhists regard animals as creations that have special levels of enlightenment. In fact, they are viewed as being sentient beings (Sandøe & Christiansen 2013). An interesting aspect of Buddhism in relation to animals is that any animal could be reborn as a human being. Thus, the religion teaches its followers about the importance of treating animals with dignity because they could be indirectly treating fellow human beings (Wolfensohn & Lloyd 2013). The religion says that those who mistreat animals will be punished severely. Regarding experimenting with animals, Buddhism acknowledges that animal research could significantly improve human health. However, creatures used in research should not be exposed to any harm. An experimenter is required to adopt a design that would lead to as little harm as possible. However, killing animals in experiments should not be promoted, unless it is necessary. Finally, Buddhism requires experimental animals to be treated kindly and respectfully.
In the context of health care system, it would be critical for the leadership to consider many factors before using animals for various purposes. For example, the leadership should consider the manner in which animals are bred and brought up in research laboratories, which should be typified by clean environments. In addition, the leadership should always focus on ensuring that animals are killed in a humane approach, which reduces their levels of suffering (Wolfensohn & Lloyd 2013).
In conclusion, animals have many uses in the health care system. Medical researchers utilise them to understand aspects that would improve human health. This paper has shown that Buddhism has clear rules in relation to handling animals. For example, followers of the religion are required to handle animals with high levels of kindness and respect. A holistic health care sector should focus on utilising the best approaches to handling animals. This implies that the leadership is required to enlighten workers about animal ethics so that the rights of animals can be protected at all times. This would improve the wellbeing of nonhuman animals across the world.
Ideland, M, 2009, ‘Different views on ethics: how animal ethics is situated in a committee culture’, Journal of medical ethics, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 258-261.
Korte, SM, Olivier, B, & Koolhaas, JM, 2007, ‘A new animal welfare concept based on allostasis’, Physiology & Behavior, vol. 92, no. 3, pp. 422-428.
Sandøe, P, & Christiansen, SB, 2013, Ethics of animal use, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.
Wolfensohn, S, & Lloyd, M, 2013, Handbook of laboratory animal management and welfare, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.