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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

UFS receives R10 million in student funding from Absa
2017-06-19

 

Description: UFS receives R10 million in student funding from Absa Tags: UFS receives R10 million in student funding from Absa

From the left: Asive Dlanjwa (UFS SRC) Prof Francis Petersen, Fikemini Dlamini,
Bertie Smith and Lesley Afrika (student beneficiary 2016-2017)

 

In support of building a more equitable and prosperous Africa, and in response to the plight of students who lack financial aid at universities across the country, Absa Bank handed over a cheque of R10 million to the University of the Free State (UFS) at a ceremony held on the Bloemfontein Campus on 13 June 2017 by the office of Institutional Advancement. The allocation of these funds will assist students who meet the bursary programme criteria (proven financial need, students who are from households with a combined income of less than R1 million per annum, with an academic average of 55% or higher).

Corporate and higher education collaborate
Speaking at the event, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS Prof Francis Petersen highlighted the important role corporates play in collaborating with educational institutions to help support future professionals who are the future builders of the economy and will later lead industry. “Absa and the UFS enjoy a good relationship and it is our hope that this bursary programme will grow from strength to strength,” he said.

In 2016 alone, Absa Bank disbursed R12 million towards settling outstanding fees for 439 students in four faculties of the UFS. In 2017 the funds will be allocated similarly to cover financial needs of qualifying students. Mr Bertie Smith, Absa Management Executive: Central Region said: “The university plays an important role in building future leaders and Absa’s strategy of shared growth supports the focus on education.”

Responding to a greater socioeconomic need
The event was attended by staff of the UFS and delegates from the Absa group, as well as students who were beneficiaries of the Absa Bursary Fund in 2016. Mr Fikemini Dlamini, Absa Head: Public Sector Business Banking, said the bursary programme was born out of the growing need to fund and develop the education of young people, and is a response to the outcry from students across the country in the “Fees Must Fall” movement. He said: “Educating one young person has a knock-on effect that has the potential to alleviate poverty in many families and communities around us.”



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