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Expert Panel Endorses Protocol for COVID-19 Herbal Medicine Clinical Trials in Africa

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The Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 formed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs has endorsed a protocol for phase III clinical trials of herbal medicine for COVID-19 as well as a charter and terms of reference for the establishment of a data and safety monitoring board for herbal medicine clinical trials.

“Just like other areas of medicine, sound science is the sole basis for safe and effective traditional medicine therapies,” said Dr Prosper Tumusiime, Director of Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa.

“The onset of COVID-19, like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, has highlighted the need for strengthened health systems and accelerated research and development programmes, including on traditional medicines,” said Dr Tumusiime.

The endorsed technical documents are aimed at empowering and developing a critical mass of technical capacity of scientists in Africa to conduct proper clinical trials to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of traditional medicines in line with international standards. Phase III clinical trials are pivotal in fully assessing the safety and efficacy of a new medical product. The data safety and monitoring board will ensure that the accumulated studies data are reviewed periodically against participants’ safety. It will also make recommendations on the continuation, modification or termination of a trial based on evaluation of data at predetermined periods during the study.

If a traditional medicine product is found to be safe, efficacious and quality-assured, WHO will recommend for a fast-tracked, large-scale local manufacturing, Dr Tumusiime explained, noting that through the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum, there is now a benchmark upon which clinical trials of medicines and vaccines in the region can be assessed and approved in fewer than 60 days.

“The adoption of the technical documents will ensure that universally acceptable clinical evidence of the efficacy of herbal medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 are generated without compromising the safety of participants,” said Professor Motlalepula Gilbert Matsabisa, the Expert Committee Chairman. He voiced hope that that the generic clinical trial protocol will be immediately used by scientists in the region to ensure that people can benefit from the potential of traditional medicine in dealing with the ongoing pandemic.

The 25-members of the Regional Expert Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 are tasked with supporting countries to enhance research and development of traditional medicine-based therapies against the virus and provide guidance on the implementation of the approved protocols to generate scientific evidence on the quality, safety and efficacy of herbal medicines for COVID-19.

The Committee members are from research institutions, national regulatory authorities, traditional medicine programmes, public health departments, academia, medical and pharmacy professions and civil society organizations of Member States.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Real Madrid Breaks Financial Records, Posts €1 Billion Revenue Amid Stadium Overhaul

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Real Madrid has announced record-breaking revenue exceeding €1 billion for the 2023/24 fiscal year.

The club’s latest financial report reveals a €1.073 billion ($1.16 billion) in revenue, a substantial 27% increase from the previous year.

This impressive growth comes despite the ongoing overhaul of the Santiago Bernabéu, which has temporarily limited its full operational capacity.

The revenue surge highlights the club’s ability to generate substantial income through various channels, including marketing and stadium operations.

Real Madrid’s success is not confined to the pitch; it has achieved significant commercial milestones.

The 2023/24 season saw the club secure its sixth UEFA Champions League title in a decade, alongside domestic triumphs in La Liga and the Super Cup.

Also, Real Madrid’s basketball team also enjoyed a stellar season, clinching the Spanish league title, King’s Cup, and Spanish Super Cup, while reaching the Euroleague finals.

Despite a decline in broadcasting revenues from La Liga, the club’s financial performance has been buoyed by increased marketing and sponsorship deals.

Notably, Real Madrid secured a new shirt sleeve sponsorship with HP, contributing to a substantial rise in marketing revenues.

The club’s EBITDA soared to €144 million ($156 million), a 71% increase from the previous year, reflecting its robust financial health and operational efficiency.

The ongoing renovation of the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, with a total investment of €1.163 billion ($1.262 billion), is set to further enhance the club’s revenue streams.

The final phase of the renovation, including VIP areas and event spaces, is expected to be completed by the 2024/25 financial year.

This development will likely drive additional revenue growth, reinforcing Real Madrid’s financial strength.

The club’s net worth stands at €574 million ($623 million), with a modest net debt of just €8 million ($8.6 million) as of June 30, 2024.

The financial results highlight Real Madrid’s resilience and strategic acumen, particularly in managing significant investments and leveraging commercial opportunities.

“Achieving over €1 billion in revenue is a groundbreaking accomplishment for Real Madrid,” said a club spokesperson.

“Despite the challenges posed by the stadium renovation, we have successfully driven growth through innovative marketing strategies and commercial partnerships. Our focus remains on building a stronger future both on and off the field.”

As the club prepares for the 2024/25 season, the anticipated arrival of Kylian Mbappé on a free transfer is expected to further boost commercial prospects and enhance the club’s marketability.

The combination of sporting success, strategic investments, and a renovated stadium positions Real Madrid for continued financial and on-field success.

Real Madrid’s achievement reflects broader trends in football finance, where top clubs are increasingly leveraging commercial opportunities to achieve unprecedented revenue milestones.

The club’s performance sets a new benchmark for financial success in the sport and underscores its enduring global appeal.

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Singapore Tops Passport Power Rankings, Overtakes European Rivals

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Singapore has reclaimed its position as the holder of the world’s most powerful passport, surpassing European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

According to the Henley Passport Index, Singaporean citizens can now enjoy visa-free access to 195 destinations globally, placing the city-state at the top of the rankings.

The Henley Passport Index, which uses data from the International Air Transport Association, evaluates 199 passports and their access to 227 destinations.

The latest update sees Singapore leapfrogging previous leaders, with the European quartet and Japan now sharing second place.

In third place are Austria, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea, and Sweden, whose passport holders have visa-free access to 191 destinations.

This is the first time seven nations have occupied this spot together.

Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, emphasized the significance of passport strength in today’s globalized world.

“The ability to travel visa-free is more than convenience; it’s a powerful economic tool driving growth, fostering international cooperation, and attracting foreign investment.”

While Singapore rises, the United States continues its decline, now ranking eighth, a drop from its former position at the top alongside the UK a decade ago. The UK, meanwhile, has slipped to fourth place.

At the bottom of the list, Afghanistan remains the weakest passport, offering visa-free entry to just 26 destinations.

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Netflix’s Premium Plan Sees 40% Price Hike Amidst Nigerian Inflation

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Netflix has increased its subscription prices in Nigeria with the Premium Plan seeing a 40% hike from ₦5,000 to ₦7,000 per month.

According to the updated pricing on Netflix’s website, the Standard Plan, popular for its HD quality and multi-screen options, now costs ₦5,500, up from ₦4,000—a 37.5% rise.

Meanwhile, the Basic Plan increased by 21% to ₦3,500, and the Mobile Plan saw a dramatic 83% jump from ₦1,200 to ₦2,200.

In April, Netflix adjusted its Premium Plan from ₦4,400 to ₦5,000 and its Standard Plan from ₦3,600 to ₦4,000. The Basic Plan remained unchanged at ₦2,900 during that period.

The company stated these changes were part of a broader strategy to enhance revenue and support its expanding content offerings.

This latest hike comes amid soaring inflation in Nigeria, which has significantly impacted the cost of living.

As food and essential goods prices rise, many Nigerians find entertainment subscriptions increasingly unaffordable.

Netflix’s price adjustments are not limited to Nigeria; similar increases have occurred in major markets like the United States, United Kingdom, and France.

In October 2023, both the Basic and Premium plans experienced hikes in these countries as part of Netflix’s global pricing strategy.

The frequent price hikes have sparked concern among Nigerian subscribers who already face economic challenges. Many are reevaluating their subscriptions as home entertainment costs continue to climb.

As Netflix continues to adjust its pricing to sustain growth and content expansion, Nigerian consumers are left weighing the value of their streaming subscriptions against other financial priorities.

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