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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

Community Service Summit
2008-10-20

Community service must heal our campus

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Community service and community service learning at the University of the Free State must be put in the forefront of healing our divided campus and our divided country.
This was the message from the Acting Rector Prof Teuns Verschoor when he opened the Community Service Summit that was held in Thaba Nchu on 9 and 10 October 2008.
“The importance of community service is that it heals those who help others because the needs of others are more important than our own needs when we render service to those who are worse off than ourselves,” prof Teuns said.

He said community service has already helped to change the UFS in terms of the academic experience of students and staff and in terms of the perceptions that various communities hold about the UFS.

The summit was attended by more than 35 representatives from different Faculties and departments of the university, representatives from the communities in the Motheo and Xhariep District Municipalities as well as the project managers of Lebone Land and the Bloemfontein Life Change Centre.

Several issues pertaining to the Community Service Policy of the UFS, as well as other related issues were discussed which will culminate in a Statement of Intent that will be handed to the Executive Management of the UFS. This is being done in response to the challenge of the acting rector that the Summit will make a meaningful input in the repositioning process of the UFS.

One delegate described her participation in the Summit as a life changing experience. “This articulation of her experience has captured the views of a lot of the delegates. It shows that there is a big need to cement the importance, commitment to and implementation of Community Service and Community Service Learning at the University of the Free State. With the support of our partners we are determined to make a difference in the lives of the people of the Free State and beyond,” said Rev Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director Community Service at the university.



 

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