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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

Standing in solidarity against suicide
2015-09-28


Students take collective action against the plight of suicide

Many students are battling depression, and have contemplated suicide. Some have lost the battle and, in turn, their lives. Suicide is a difficult topic to discuss and, even more challenging, to face its repercussions. The Leadership for Change (F1) 2014/2015 cohort took the initiative to change this through the TooSoon campaign.

A day after International Suicide Awareness Day, on Friday 11 September 2015, students marched in solidarity from Thakaneng Bridge to the Red Square on the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein Campus.

The TooSoon team has forged links with the student community, Student Affairs, Student Counselling and Development, as well as the Health and Wellness offices to break the silence about the topic of suicide.

Every student has the potential to live a long and purposeful life. So, when someone ends his or her life, it is always too soon: this is the message the team is communicating. Awareness-raising was kick-started in August, with information sessions held at residences across the campus and the Bridge. The campus was plastered with posters offering emergency contact details for those in need of counselling, and culminated in the silent march.

At the end of the march, those who had already lost the battle were remembered through song and poetry. Students then pledged their support by painting their fingers with yellow paint and printing them on a canvas,,symbolising their solidarity in the fight against suicide.

 

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