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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

Oncology department celebrates 50 years of excellence
2017-09-07

  Description: Oncology photo Tags: Oncology, cancer, University of the Free State, UFS, Dr Alicia Sherriff, Faculty of Health Sciences

The UFS Department of Oncology celebrated 50 years of
existence. Prof Louis Goedhals says that the department
is like a family that will carry and support you.
Photo: Wendy Ruth
 



South Africa could see an increase of 78% in the number of cancer cases by 2030 and from a global perspective, a 75% increase is expected, increasing the total incidence of all new cancer cases from 12.7 million in 2008 to 22.2 million by 2030, according to a recent study published by medical journal Lancet. According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), more than 100 000 South Africans are diagnosed each year. It is rather comforting that the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Faculty of Health Sciences has an Oncology department that has been fighting cancer for 50 years. 

Excellence over the decades 
The 50-year celebration of the Department of Oncology took place at the UFS Centenary Complex on the Bloemfontein Campus on 19 August 2017. The auspicious event was attended by UFS Faculty of Health Sciences registrars, radiation oncology radiographers and professional nurses who had trained in the department over the past 50 years, as well as the current departmental staff.

Dr Alicia Sherriff, Head of the Department of Oncology welcomed the dignitaries and thanked everyone for their attendance and dedication to the department, Prof Louis Goedhals, the oldest surviving head of department, gave a summary of the 50 years. He said once you were involved with this department you became part of a family that would carry and support you. Memories were shared and friendships rekindled. The message of this department that stood the test of time was: “To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always … and to bring hope”.

UFS dignitaries reveled in the moment 

Among the special guests were the Rector and Vice Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Gert van Zyl, Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences; the Free State MEC for Health Mr Butana Komphela, and CEO of Universitas Hospital Dr Marcus Molokomme, were invited. The function was well attended by personnel, graduates from as far as Portugal, and dignitaries from the university. There was a sense of unity and belonging among all the attendees and enthusiastic catching up over the years that have passed.

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