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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 workers, activists and scholars to discuss Gender-based violence
2012-10-03

The Gender Studies Programme and Gender Initiative attached to the Dialogue between Science and Society Series at the University of the Free State is holding a one-day symposium titled African Gender Perspectives on 23 October 2012. Activists, scholars and community-based workers will speak at the symposium about their work in the field of gender and gender-based violence.

Keynote speakers include Cheryl Potgieter (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Bette Dickerson (American University, Washington, D.C) and Jennifer Fish (Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia). Dickerson and Fish will be speaking about their participatory action research with the group Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids (GAPPA) who are based in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Fish will also talk about her experience of setting up a gender centre in Rwanda.

The women’s support network Sisters for Sisters from Woodstock, Cape Town will give a presentation on their community work with women from various parts of the African continent that have experienced multiple forms of gender-based violence, and they will expand on their experiences of participating in an academic research project.

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