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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. 


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Nutrition congress to be held at the UFS
2012-09-21

About 1 000 experts, researchers, nutritionists and policy makers in nutrition and feeding from all over Africa and some abroad will gather at the University of the Free State for the Nutrition Congress Africa 2012.

This congress will take place at the Bloemfontein Campus from 1 to 4 October 2012 where various national and international experts will deliver presentations on the latest research and developments on nutrition and dietetics in Africa.

The Nutrition Congress Africa 2012 is a joint scientific meeting of the 24th congress of the Nutrition Society of South Africa, the 12th congress of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa and the 5th African Nutrition Epidemiology Congress .

The theme for the congress is “Transforming the Nutrition Landscape in Africa” and it motivates nutrition experts and scientists to take action and apply knowledge and skills to improve nutrition in Africa.

Plenary, as well as five parallel sessions will be presented over four days,  covering  topics which include amongst others addressing poverty and food insecurity, food regulatory and labelling issues, the food industry, HIV and nutrition, the sports nutrition industry, nutritional management of renal and GI-related diseases, food security, maternal and infant nutrition.

“We believe that working together as nutrition experts will strengthen professional networks and allow us to share expertise and exchange experiences to the benefit of all,” says Dr Ronette Lategan, chairperson of the Nutrition 2012 congress and lecturer at the UFS’ Department of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Nutrition is a fast developing science and a wide spectrum of topics with the latest research and developments will be included in the programme.

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