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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

Deaf Awareness Month empowers the hearing impaired
2015-09-21

There are more sign languages in the world than spoken languages. About 600 000 deaf South Africans have the South African Sign Language (SASL) as their first language. There are about 40 schools for the deaf in South Africa. 90% of all deaf children are born to hearing parents. Only about 30% of speech is visible on the lips.

How many of these fundamental facts did you know?

Deaf Awareness Month serves to educate hearing communities about issues that the deaf population face on a daily basis, as well as to honour the history and culture of people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. For the past 70 years, the University of the Free State (UFS) has dedicated September to hosting events around the topic of hearing impairment.

The theme of ‘With South African Sign Language rights, our children can!’

This year’s theme had learners from Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind, hearing impaired UFS students, and Prof Jonathan Jansen engaged in a conversation around empowerment at a picnic held on Monday 7 September 2015 at the Red Square on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Through a sign language interpreter, Matshela, a grade 12 learner, explained that he felt empowered by the efforts the university has made to embrace and empower individuals with disabilities. He then revealed his intentions of pursuing Information Technology or Social Work studies at Kovsies.

Clifford Machete, a first-year Administration student at the university, stated how sign language interpreters gave him an ‘I can’ attitude when he first arrived at university.  “As a deaf person, I see that I am able to learn with the help of sign language interpreters. There is accessibility at the university, and I am so proud to be a student here and part of Deaf Awareness Month.”

Susan Lombaard, Lecturer and Acting Chairperson at the Department of South African Sign Language, believes that Deaf Awareness Month is about promoting human dignity.

“We want to show the world that deaf people can do everything, and that their language is as strong and important as any spoken language.”

For more information regarding Deaf Awareness Month activities, contact the South African Sign Language Department on 051 401 2251.

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