Rīga Stradiņš University to look at use of questionable qualification certificates

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The name of a prestigious Latvian scientific and medical university is on certificates being handed out as proof of competence in something called "Neutraceuticals", reported the Re:Baltica center for investigative journalism.

The English-language certificates are headed "Rīgas Stradiņa Universitāte" (Riga Stradiņš University, RSU) and declare that the recipient is has studied "Neutraceuticals" for a total of five hours as part of a "professional development programme" covering neurodegenerative diseases, Symptoms. Treatments, principles."

The relevant course at RSU consists of 10 lectures, with each session costing 25 euros. It is led by Jelena Krasilnikova, an associate professor and lecturer at RSU, in the Department of Human Physiology and Biochemistry. She told Re:Baltica that she has been doing this for years and that the course is popular with about 50-60 people attending each lecture. 

Lectures are held in Russian, as the audience includes many from Lithuania, Estonia and other countries. After each lesson, they get a confirmation certificate with the RSU name - it's in English because people ask for it that way. 

“It's like an open university where everyone can come from the street. I don't know what they do afterwards. I can't control it!” said Krasilnikova, responding to Re:Baltica's information that  representatives of a business called Coral Club, which distribues vitamins and dietary supplements as well as so-called "detox" treatments, had been using the RSU certification as a form of endorsement for products without a proper scientific basis for doing so. On its website, Coral Club offers various products and tickets to events including tickets to a congress in St, Petersburg, Russia, later this year.

The lectures themselves do not mention specific products or make claims about their supposed health benefits, Krasilnikova said.

A credible description of what "Neutraceuticals" actually means, and the conclusions of scientific papers ont he subject is available at the website of the UK's Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Responding to the Re:Baltic report, director of the RSU's communications department, Edijs Šauers, said in writing: "In the future, we will focus more closely on courses that display the RSU name. Thank you for bringing this topic to our attention."


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