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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

Groundbreaking research underway to improve health in the Free State
2009-04-06

 
Some of the researchers in the project, are from the left, back: Dr Sanet van Zyl, Dr Lynette van der Merwe (both of Basic Medical Sciences), Ms Michélle Pienaar (Ph.D. student Nutrition and Dietetics), Prof. Corinna Walsh (project leader, Nutrition and Dietetics) and Dr Dries Groenewald (Chemical Pathology); front: Mr Llewellyn Fourie (M.Sc. student, Nutrition and Dietetics) and Mrs Marleze van Rhyn (Van Rensburg Patoloë).
Photo: Supplied.
Groundbreaking research underway to improve health in the Free State

Ahead of World Health Day on Tuesday 7 April, researchers at the University of the Free State (UFS) have announced that they are involved in an extensive research project to determine how life in urban and rural areas influences the lifestyle of the communities and contributes to lifestyle illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and heart diseases, as well malnutrition.

According to the researchers of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the UFS, the study in various suburbs of Mangaung is a long-term project known as Assuring Health for All in the Free State (AHA-FS) and will monitor communities every three years for a period of twelve years.

Prof. Corinna Walsh of the Department Nutrition and Dietetics is the project leader and works closely with researchers in the departments of Basic Medical Sciences and Chemical Pathology of the School of Medicine in the faculty.

A total of 36 researchers and field workers are involved in the project and information on various nutrition and health aspects are gathered. Those include diet, physical activity, health, knowledge, practices and attitude towards nutrition.

Medical examinations, anthropometric measuring (of the human body) and various blood tests will be done in the study and extensive data on 1 200 people will be available in the end.

The data gathered will be used in intervention programmes planned to prevent and address health programme in these communities.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
06 April 2009

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