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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

Palestinian delegation visit marks new bilateral relations
2015-11-27



Prof Jonathan Jansen and His Excellency Mr Hashem Dajani
Photo: Charl Devenish

The Office of International Affairs hosted the official visit of the Ambassador of Palestine, His Excellency Mr Hashem Dajani, to the University of the Free State (UFS) on 16-17 November 2015. Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, welcomed the Ambassador and the Palestinian delegation to the Bloemfontein Campus. During the visit, they met with senior management of the university, including Dr Karen Lazenby (Registrar: Systems and Administration), Beata Mtyingizana (Director of International Affairs) and JC Van der Merwe (Deputy Director at the Institute of Reconciliation and Social Justice).

The visit marked the finalisation of a scholarship initiative which offers placement of Palestinian students to study at the UFS. The new Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship programme will recognise academic excellence and merit in undergraduate, postgraduate, as well as doctoral academic disciplines.

One of the strategic objectives of the UFS is that of internationalisation, which is strengthened by the scholarship programme. With the focus on Palestine, the university’s international footprint in non-traditional regions of the world, such as the Middle East, will therefore be highlighted.

To conclude the visit, the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice hosted a film screening featuring ‘Jerusalem, the east side story’. The documentary mainly looks at the past forty years of Israeli military occupation policies in Jerusalem and the subsequent impact on the city and its people.

“Peace in Palestine is key to world peace,” Ambassador Dajani said. “The issue of self-determination is central to the Palestinian effort, and, through the assistance of the international community, it can it be realised.”

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