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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

Walking and running routes launched on UFS Bloemfontein Campus
2015-09-16

Photo: Hatsu Mphatsoe

On Casual Day, Friday 4 September 2015, the UFS Health and Wellness Centre and KovsieSport launched a healthy lifestyle on the Bloemfontein Campus with the focus on Walking and Running routes. The theme of the event was set by the many flying tutus, together with outrageous outfits that were to be seen in the crowd of anxious and excited runners.

There are a total of six walking and jogging routes, stretching over the central and western parts of the Bloemfontein Campus. Colour-coded arrows indicate the various routes, ranging from a three-kilometre route (green) to an eight-kilometre route (black). The 2,5 km route is accessible for people with wheelchairs.
 
According to Arina Engelbrecht, who is spearheading the Wellness programme, a board will be erected in front of the Callie Human Centre later on, explaining the various routes. All the routes start and finish at the Callie Human Centre.

This initiative is receiving support from management, who requested that a healthy lifestyle be encouraged amongst students and staff. With this project, staff and students can train and exercise in a safe environment. The routes are also wheelchair friendly, and will be expanded to cycle routes in the future.

Various departments showed their support in numbers, bringing together teams that competed. Staff and students were excited to see what bends and turns lay ahead of them on the trails. Prof Nicky Morgan: Vice-Rector: Operations, cut the ribbon at the official opening of the routes. Morgan himself was extremely excited about the event, as he navigated his way energetically between the runners and walkers.

In his opening speech, Pieter du Plessis, Executive Assistant to the Vice-Rector: Operations, talked about the importance of keeping healthy by doing something as simple as walking, an inexpensive method of keeping healthy.

Arina commented: “We received some great feedback from the masses that attended, and many said they will continue to make use of the routes.”
 
This event forms part of the human project of the UFS, and will also create awareness amongst staff and students about persons with disabilities.

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