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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

Bring back dignity to our schoolgirls
2015-03-10

A Kovsie student initiative is currently crying out to the community at large to help in realising a dream of helping school learners who come from poor families to gain confidence in their school work and social lives generally. 

 

This initiative by Nkanyezi Talk @UFS aims to do this through the provision of sanitary towels to such learners at the onset of puberty.

 

“Through research, we have established that some learners face numerous challenges during this stage, with some using socks as a substitute for sanitary towels while others opt for newspapers. This raises a lot of health and psychological concerns,” says project coordinator Bongani Zwane.

 

According to research conducted by UNICEF in 2013, one in ten girls who cannot afford sanitary towels will miss a week of schooling during the cycle of their period. This is because they fear being ridiculed by other learners, and because their dignity as girls is not being respected. This absence from school also happens because they do not understand what is happening to their bodies.

 

“What should be a celebration of womanhood becomes a time of shame and embarrassment with dire consequences for the girls’ education as well as their future,” Zwane adds.

 

“We therefore appeal to everyone to help us realise this dream of making sure that we reduce the number of schoolgirls who do not attend school during their menstruation periods, and restore their dignity by donating sanitary towels.

 

“Overall, we have already collected more than 1000 packs of sanitary towels. The office of Cornelia Faasen, our acting dean of Student Affairs, has also endorsed the campaign and already donated 600 packs of sanitary towels,” says Zwane.

 

“We have set ourselves the goal of collecting and donating 10 000 (ten thousand) sanitary towels in total.”

 

 

Methods of Donating

 

Nkanyezi Talk @UFS welcomes any physical donations of sanitary towels and financial donations through their UFS entity number 1/466/08119 only.

 

For more information on how and where to donate, please contact project coordinator Bongani Zwane at 079 237 5089 or email him to bzwane@workmail.co.za.

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