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20 August 2020 | Story Andre Damons | Photo Barend Nagel
Prof Motlalepula Matsabisa, Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of the Free State (UFS), has been appointed as the chairperson of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Expert Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicines for COVID-19.

Prof Motlalepula Matsabisa, Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of the Free State (UFS), will lead Africa’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with his appointment as chairperson of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Expert Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicines for COVID-19.

Prof Matsabisa has been chosen over 25 other experts from 27 African countries to head this expert committee tasked with setting up research and clinical trials for COVID-19 and beyond. The committee is also supported by the African Union (AU), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC – Africa), and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

This committee was established by the WHO and the Africa CDC on 22 July with the aim of providing independent scientific advice and support to countries on the safety, efficacy, and quality of traditional medicine therapies. It is also an effort to enhance research and development of traditional medicines for COVID-19 in Africa.

Looking forward

“This is a huge continental and global responsibility being laid on my shoulders as a chairperson.  I have to keep the committee together and ensure that it delivers on its set mandate and terms of reference.  I need to ensure that the committee helps the continent and region to get the scientific and legislative aspects on traditional medicine development on track.”  

“I have taken this position and responsibility, knowing quite well what it entails. I want to do this for the continent and for the sake of good science of all traditional healers and consumers of traditional medicines on the continent and beyond,” says Prof Matsabisa.

According to Prof Matsabisa, he is looking forward to working with a team of dedicated experts from 27 countries in the African region, and being of help to countries that need assistance with clinical trials, including preclinical work to move to clinical research.

Prof Matsabisa says he is also looking forward to countries asking South Africa to be part of their multi-centre studies in clinical trials for traditional medicines, and to help set up clinical trial teams that include Western-trained clinicians to get into traditional medicine studies. 

The work of the committee

According to Prof Matsabisa, his new position took effect the same day as his appointment and will run as long as COVID-19 is part of our daily lives and even beyond. It entails supporting member states to implement the WHO master plan for clinical trial protocols in order to generate credible data for COVID-19 results, based on traditional medicines. The committee will also coordinate support to member states in the African region to collaborate on clinical trials of traditional medicine-based therapies – elevating standards by pooling expertise in multicentre studies, as well as complying with GCP and good participatory practice guidelines for trials of emerging and re-emerging pathogens.
“The committee will also advise on strengthening the capacity of national medicine regulatory authorities to accelerate the issuance of marketing authorisations for traditional medicine products that have been well researched for safety, efficacy, and quality, as well as to expedite the approval of clinical trials on traditional medicines. This will help to meet the national registration criteria and the WHO norms and standards of quality, safety, and efficacy for the management of COVID-19 and others.”

“It will also provide independent scientific advice to the WHO and other partners regarding policies, strategies, and plans for integrating traditional medicines into COVID-19 responses and health systems,” explains Prof Matsabisa. 

Aiming for the top spot 

Prof Matsabisa has been described as having the third highest research output – something he is not satisfied with. 
“I was disappointed that only one point separated me from the second place. I will push for first place as this is my ultimate aim. My motivation for this is simple – I like what I am doing, I do not take it as a job but do it because I love research.”  

“I always like to tell students that we should be proud to one day see products in the shops that we can relate to and to which we have contributed or that we have made.   This is what drives me and my staff.  I have a beautiful team of students, staff, and postdoctoral fellows who share my vision of research.  We all have a shared vision and strive to be relevant at all times in science research, development, and teaching.”

• Prof Matsabisa was recently part of a national conference with the theme: Harnessing science, technology, and innovation in response to COVID-19: A national and international effort. The conference was hosted by Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, with Pres Cyril Ramaphosa, Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health, Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Prof Sarah Anyang Agbor, African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, in attendance. 

News Archive

UFS students should register like this
2004-12-15

Student activities on the main campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) will start next year when first-time entering first-year students will be welcomed by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof Frederick Fourie, on 15 January at 11:00 in the Callie Human Centre on campus.

“The registration process will start on 17 January 2005 when first-time entering first-year students, who applied for admission before 30 November 2005, will start registering. These students may register until 21 January 2005 according to a programme,” said Mr Vernon Collett, Registrar: Academic Student Services at the UFS.

Senior undergraduate students may register from 22-29 January 2005 and postgraduate students, first-time entering first-year students and other students who applied for admission after 30 November 2004 until 15 January 2005, may register from 31 January- 4 February 2005 according to a programme.

According to Mr Collett postgraduate students who applied for admission from 15 January- 11 February 2005, may register according to a programme from 7-11 February 2005. Students who want to change their field of study or want to amend their modules, may do it during this period.

“To ensure an orderly registration process, strict adherence to the registration programme will be maintained,” said Mr Collett.

Applications for the Career Preparation Programme (CPP) close on 21 January 2005 en those for upgrading courses in Education, will close on 2 February 2005.

“Pipeline students from Vista must register on the UFS’s Vista campus on the dates already mentioned and first-year students from Vista must register on the UFS’s main campus,” said Mr Collett.

All registrations will take place daily from 08:00 in the Callie Human Centre on the main campus.

According to Mr Collett a variety of services will be available to students in the Callie Human Centre during the registration – among others advice on bursaries, loans, staff and council bursaries, enquiries for international students, information on class and room tables, student cards, vehicle permits etc.

At the Qwaqwa campus all first-time entering first-year students must report on 17 January 2005, after which the registration of these students will take place according to a specific programme. Application for admission to this campus close on 1 February 2005. First-time entering first-year students will be welcomed by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof Frederick Fourie, on 22 January 2005 at 11:00 in the Nelson Mandela Hall on campus.

Lectures at the UFS’s main campus as well as the Vista- and Qwaqwa-campusses will commence on 31 January 2005.

Prospective students who want to apply or who have any enquiries can call (051) 401-3000 or visit the UFS web site late in December 2004 at www.uovs.ac.za.

A complete registration programme for first-time entering first-year students who registered before 30 November 2004 will appear in Volksblad of 29 Desember 2004.

      Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
15 December 2004

 

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