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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

Staff experience running in the shoes of students
2014-07-29


Photo: Sonia Small

From having to upload money on a card and buying lunch at Thakaneng Bridge to naming the SRC members, some UFS staff members got to experience life as a full-time student on our Bloemfontein Campus.

During their 2014 Purpose Summit on 22 July, staff from Student Affairs competed against each other in an Amazing Race.

“We got to see how students actually run around on campus each day,” said Elize Rall from Residence Life. “We always hear from parents how their children have to go from one place on campus to the other to get things done … and now we know what they are talking about.”

Staff who attended the summit was divided into teams during the morning’s practical session. Similar to the popular television programme, The Amazing Race, there were quite a few checkpoints – often with some formidable challenges and quizzes.

To make their tasks even more difficult, the participants were forced to take the route students with disabilities would have taken. This means: no stairs could be climbed and no curbs could be jumped – they could only use ramps and elevators.

"The experience was extra-ordinary," said Lerato Masapo from Residence Life. "I learned a lot and I didn't realise how difficult it was for our disabled students to move around the campus.

"What struck me the most was the distance between every building and how far the students had to walk to reach certain places. This made me realise the importance and responsibility on us as staff members to know our environment and assist students accordingly in that regard."

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