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WHO Warns Against Tobacco Industry’s Misleading Medical Education in Kenya

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In a concerning development, the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised an alarm about the tobacco industry’s efforts to mislead medical professionals in Kenya through sponsored continuing education programs.

On June 12th, the WHO complained that the industry has been funding medical education courses on tobacco use cessation, but these courses are promoting the use of untested products, such as nicotine pouches and e-cigarettes, as cessation aids.

The WHO underscored the critical need for transparency and ethical standards in medical training, urging certification bodies to avoid any partnerships with the tobacco industry to prevent the dissemination of biased information that could undermine public health efforts.

Kenyan health advocates have supported the WHO’s stance, with the Kenya Tobacco Control and Health Promotion Alliance noting that some medical workers have been promoting nicotine pouches as alternatives for smokers, despite a lack of independent studies showing their efficacy in helping smokers quit.

“Those who have mastered the tactics employed by tobacco industry must keep their heads up,” said Ketca chairman Joel Gitali, highlighting the industry’s persistent attempts to maintain its business operations in the country.

The WHO’s statement comes as Kenya’s tobacco control regulations already outlaw all forms of sponsorship by the industry. However, Sanuel Ochieng, the CEO of the Consumer Information Network, acknowledged the need to “perfect our act and fill any loopholes” to strengthen the implementation of these laws.

The WHO’s move to support Medscape’s decision to remove a series of accredited medical education courses on smoking cessation funded by Philip Morris International is a step in the right direction. The global health organization is urging healthcare professionals to remain vigilant against conflicts of interest and to focus on evidence-based education that prioritizes public health over commercial interests.

As Kenya continues to grapple with the tobacco industry’s interference, the WHO’s warning serves as a crucial reminder of the need for unwavering commitment to protecting public health and combating the deceptive tactics employed by the tobacco industry.

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