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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

Haemophilia home infusion workshop
2017-12-17


 Description: haemophilia Tags: Haemophilia, community, patient, clinical skills, training 

Parents receive training for homecare of their children with haemophilia.
Photo Supplied


Caregivers for haemophilia patients, and patients themselves from around the Free State and Northern Cape attended a home infusion workshop held by the Clinical Skills unit in the Faculty of Health Sciences in July 2017. “It felt liberating and I feel confident to give the factor to my son correctly,” said Amanda Chaba-Okeke, the mother of a young patient, at the workshop. Her son, also at the workshop, agreed. “It felt lovely and good to learn how to administer factor VIII.” 

Clinical skills to empower parents and communities

There were two concurrent sessions: one attended by doctors from the Haemophilia Treatment Centre, and the other attended by community members including factor VIII and XI recipients, caregivers and parents. The doctors’ meeting was shown informative videos and demonstrations on how to administer the newly devised factor VII and XI kit, and discussed the pressing need for trained nurses at local clinics. Dr Jaco Joubert, a haematologist, made an educational presentation to the community members.

The South African Haemophilia Foundation was represented by Mahlomola Sewolane, who gave a brief talk about the role of the organisation in relation to the condition. Meanwhile, procedural training in the simulation laboratory involved doctors and nurses helping participants to learn the procedures by using mannequins and even some volunteers from among the patients.

A medical condition causing serious complications
Haemophilia is a medical condition in which the ability of the blood to clot is severely impaired, even from a slight injury. The condition is typically caused by a hereditary lack of a coagulation factor, most often factor VIII. Usually patients must go through replacement therapy in which concentrates of clotting factor VIII (for haemophilia A) or clotting factor IX (for haemophilia B) are slowly dripped or injected into the vein, to help replace the clotting factor that is missing or low. Patients have to receive this treatment in hospital.

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