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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

UFS to monitor the use of ARV-drugs on pregnant women and children
2004-12-08

The University of the Free State (UFS) is to establish a Pharmacovigilance Centre that will monitor the effects of Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs on HIV positive pregnant women and children starting early in the new year.

The UFS is one of only two institutions chosen by the Minister of Health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, to establish such an ARV monitoring centre.

The other centre will be based at Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA) and will concentrate mainly on monitoring the effects of the drugs on adults.

“The establishment of the UFS’s Pharmaconvigilance Centre forms part of government’s Comprehensive Plan on HIV and AIDS, often termed the roll-out plan for ARV drugs. The centre’s primary responsibility will be to specifically monitor the use of these drugs in pregnant women, and children under the age of 13,” said Prof Andrew Walubo of the UFS’s Department of Pharmacology.

“Although most of the side effects of ARV drugs have been identified in other countries, it has now become critical to identify the side effects amongst the South African population. This is important because many people will be exposed to the drugs within a short time. Our aim is so identify the most common side effects and make recommendations for the prevention thereof. The centre will help in detecting the risk of using anti-retroviral drugs in pregnancy and children, and prevention of adverse drug reactions,” said Prof Walubo.

According to Prof Walubo 12 drugs will be monitored – these drugs will be selected according to the patient’s profile.

The centre will comprise of two components: A pregnancy registry, which will focus on a new-born child up until two months and a pediatric registry, which will focus on children who are born of mothers who used ARV drugs and children using ARV drugs.

According to Prof Walubo, the Pharmaconvigilance Centre will also be responsible for offering relevant technical advice, training and selected research on ARV drugs in these patients.

The centre will be fully sponsored by the national Department of Health. It will be based in the UFS’s Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Pharmacology, and will be run in collaboration with experts from different departments in the faculty.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
8 December 2004

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