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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

HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’, says Prof Petersen
2017-08-22

 Description: HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’ Tags: HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’

UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Francis Petersen
presents the welcoming address at the 2017 HEMIS Institute
in Bloemfontein.
Photo: Eugene Seegers

Higher education institutions such as universities need information and accurate data to make critically important management decisions. Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), expressed these sentiments during his introduction at the 2017 HEMIS Institute recently held in Bloemfontein.

Reporting a critical part of HE practice
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) uses its Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) to manage and verify performance data from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) regarding four crucial datasets, namely students, staff, space, and postdoctoral information and research fellows. HEMIS data is collected for quality control, funding, and planning purposes, in particular for steering the system and for monitoring the sector. This data must then be audited, since it is used for subsidy allocations to HEIs.

“Institutional reporting on aspects of what we do as public universities is a critical part of practice in Higher Education,” said Prof Petersen. He added, “Whether about insourcing statistics, … student accommodation, or transformation and indicators within that domain, it’s really all about accurate data with which informed, evidence-based decisions can be made. This HEMIS Institute 2017 ultimately enables us to share insights across institutions, which can grow and strengthen the sector as a whole.”

‘It’s about accurate data with
which informed decisions can
be made’—Prof Francis Petersen

Public and private HEIs attend training alongside government reps
The Institutional Information Systems Unit of the Directorate for Institutional Research and Academic Planning (DIRAP) hosted and presented the Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) HEMIS Foundations workshop and the annual HEMIS Institute in Bloemfontein. These training opportunities were attended by university data managers and representatives from 26 public and private HEIs, as well as representatives from the Council on Higher Education (CHE), DHET, and the Namibian National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). The Foundations workshop was designed to assist those new to the platform to be better acquainted with this data management tool, while the two-day Institute was structured to answer complex questions and address issues around the use of the relevant reporting structures and software.

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