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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

Discussion forum held for the establishment of an Institute for Diversity
2009-09-15

 
A discussion forum for the establishment of an Institute for Diversity was recently held on the Main Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). According to Rev. Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director: Community Service, the forum discussed issues such as the proposed niche areas and recommendations for the development of these niche areas, as well as the institutional placement and functioning of the institute. Attending the discussion forum were, from the left, front: Mr Willem Ellis, International Institute for Development Ethics (IIDE); Dr Andries Odendaal , consultant; Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS; Prof. Melissa Steyn, University of Cape Town; Mr John Samuel, consultant; Prof. Mokubung Nkomo, University of Pretoria; Rev. Jaftha; and Prof. Anwar Osman, Centre for African Studies at the UFS; back: Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Vice-Rector: Academic Operations; Prof. Neil Roos, University of Pretoria; and Prof. Piet Erasmus, Department of Anthropology at the UFS.
Photo: Dalene Harris 

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