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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

Schoolgirl builds giant Gingerbread house for Children’s Wing Project
2015-11-13


Professor André Venter, Head: Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Morgan Pelser, and Tertia de Bruin, Project Coordinator: Children’s Wing: UFS Marketing.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs.

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.” These words rang true for Morgan Pelser from Bloemfontein when she fulfilled her wish on Tuesday 3 November 2015 at the launch of her ‘big and real’ Gingerbread house.

 

Pelser, 13, said she had the idea of building the gingerbread house over six months ago and began working tirelessly, raising funds for the project. She intends to donate the money raised from this initiative to the Children’s Wing Project at Pelonomi and Universitas Hospitals. It was back in Grade 4 when she had the opportunity to tour through the ICU, neonatal and paediatric wards of the two hospitals, that she saw the need for better equipment and facilities. Pelser hopes to raise R200 000 through the initiative.

 

Professor André Venter, Head: Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of the Free State, said he was greatly humbled by the perseverance and passion shown by Morgan in executing her dream. “I work with children, so I know how resilient they are, but seeing this is amazing. We tend to give up so easily,” he said. He went on to say that the money will be greatly appreciated, as it will be used to provide health-care facilities for children at both hospitals.

 

The launch of the gingerbread house was a huge success. The house is currently outside Coco C at the Loch Logan Waterfront. Members of the public are encouraged to see and taste the giant house, where they can leave a message on the inside of the house. A minimum fee of R20 is requested.

 

Professor André Venter, Head: Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Morgan Pelser, and Tertia de Bruin, Project Coordinator: Children’s Wing: UFS-Marketing.

Photo: Leonie Bolleurs.

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