Indigenous Knowledge Systems Contributing to Socio-economic Solutions

Moderator: Ms Lia Labuschagne, Journalist

Panelist: Prof Namrita Lall, University of Pretoria

Panelist: Dr Makhotso Lekhooa, North West University

Panelist: Dr Henry Lowe, Eden Gardens

Panelist: Dr Motlalepula Matsabisa, University of the Free State

Indigenous knowledge system presents a platform full of heritage with endless possibilities of application. It is our responsibility as youth to engage with elders for their wisdom and combine our understanding of modern technological applications to find solutions across various industries. In health, using the elders’ knowledge of medicinal plants along with biotechnology applications to develop new therapeutic treatment. Incorporating indigenous games concepts in early phase education for better cognitive skills, and utilizing art or media to communicate African stories. For this to be a reality the youth needs to be on the forefront of innovation in partnership with IKS and other stakeholders to creatively find solutions and while creating opportunities that will benefit all.

Ms Lia Labuschagne, Free Lance Science Writer

Lia Labuschagne is a Kleinmond-based writer, editor, marketing research practitioner and communication consultant. She holds a BA (Honours) in English (UJ) and a MDP (UNISA) in Marketing Management.She has extensive experience in corporate communication management, public relations, publishing and related fieldsHer experience includes nine years in senior management positions in communication roles at major corporations such as Iscor Steel (now ArcelorMittal), and Afrox.It also includes seven years of experience abroad (Switzerland and Spain) as editor.She writes regularly for a number of publications, including Accountancy SA, Business Day’s Earth and Empowerment publications, earthworks (sustainability in the built environment), the JSE’s special quarterly publications, SAICE’s Civil Engineering Magazine, African Communications, African Decisions, SA Harvest, Green Business Journal, Green Home and others. She recently co-authored a book on the history of Reutech Radar Services and the development of that industry in South Africa. She also writes book reviews.As independent consultant, she provides services to clients involved in a wide range of economic activity – including chartered accounting, scientific, technology, financial services, occupational health and safety classical music, industrial, recycling and sustainability in general. The assignments undertaken on behalf of clients include a variety of communication-  related activities, from strategy and marketing research, to writing and text editing assignments.

She has been involved in the start-up strategies for a number of companies (e.g. CollectA-Can) and  designed numerous communication and related strategies relating to, among others, environmental and  sustainability issues as a member of interdisciplinary teams (e.g. the establishment of Saldanha  Steel). She is an experienced trainer and lecturer in corporate communications, marketing,public  relations and business strategy. She regularly presents talkson topics such as astronomy,  communication strategy and social media.Interests and involvement in professional organisations Lia  is or has been a member of a number of relevant professional bodies, including the South African  Science Journalists’ Association (SAJSA) and the Professional Editors’ Group (PEG),the Public  Relations Association (PRISA). She has served member of the national executive of PEG and also of SASJA, and through them on the executive  of the Alliance of Language and Media Practitioners (LAMP) and the South African Book Development  Council.She is also member of the advisory committee for public relations at the Cape Peninsula  University of Technology and a full member of the Cape Town Press Club.Her life-long personal  passions include literature, the sciences (especially astronomy and physics), space exploration,  classical music, photography, cricket, crafts and cats.Among others she chaired the Cape Centre of  the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA), and is an honorary life member of the centre.  She has served on the national council of ASSA for a number of years.In addition to English and  Afrikaans, she speaks German and has a working knowledge of Spanish and some French.


Prof Namrita Lall, University of Pretoria

Prof Lall has been placed in the Essential Science Indicators list of the top 1% of publication outputs (citations) in the discipline PHARMACOLOGY and TOXICOLOGY. She has obtained several international patents including 3 US patents, 4 PCT-patents, 8 South African patents, coauthored about 125 research articles in peer reviewed journals and eight book chapters. She has been awarded National Research Chair in Plant Health Products from IKS, by the NRF/DST in 2016. Among several awards received in recognition for her work, a few are “The Order of Mapungubwe”, South Africa’s highest honour from the Honorable South African President Jacob  Zuma (April 2014), Distinguished Young Women in Science Award by Naledi Pandor, Honorable minister of the Science and Technology of South Africa (August 2011) and UNESCO-L’Oreal Award for Women in Science (one of the 10 selected candidates internationally, March 2002). She has been one of the founders for the development of a new specialized field, called “Medicinal Plant Sciences” at postgraduate level in January 2007 at the University of Pretoria. About 14 pharamaceutical and cosmeceutical products which have resulted from her research programme is close to commercialization. Twenty Masters and sixteen PhDs have graduated under Prof Lall’s supervision. She has demonstrated commitment to community by interacting positively with traditional health practitioners and engaging them in advancing traditional medicines towards conventional pharmaceutical products.


Dr Makhotso Lekhooa, North West University

Dr ‘Makhotso Lekhooa is a young upcoming pharmacologist based at the department of Pharmacology in the school of Pharmacy at the North West University, Potchefstroom campus since late 2016. She is involved in teaching of undergraduates and training of postgraduate students with a research focus on herbal medicines and mental illnesses. She is a member of Medical control council’s complementary medicines sub-committee. Previously, she worked for the South African Medical research council and University of the Free State while pursuing postgraduate studies. In this capacity she was involved in natural products pharmacological research. She holds an M.Med.Sc and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of the Free State. Her Ph.D. results indicated that Phela, a South African plant is a potential alternative therapy for immune compromised patients. Dr Lekhooa is a former recipient of the DST women in science doctoral fellowship (2013) and a golden key honorary member. She has published her work and presented at national and international conferences. She serves with enthusiasm on the Pharmacology for Africa initiative (PharfA) and on the South African committee for IUPHAR   as a young scientist.


Dr Henry Lowe, Eden Gardens

Prof. the Honourable Henry I.C. Lowe, is a scientist who specializes in medicinal chemistry. As a result of his many professional and scientific achievements, Prof. Lowe has received many awards and accolades, including the Order of Jamaica, the Prime Minister’s medal for Science & Technology, Jamaica Observer Business Leader Award (2006), the CCRP Living Legend Award (2012), Inter-American Development Bank Local Innovator Award (2016) and the Jamaica National Innovation Award for Nutraceuticals.

He has discovered several bioactive and novel molecules from Jamaican medicinal plants  (particularly Jamaican Ball Moss) which are being developed for cancer therapy, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Prof. Lowe has established the first scientifically based nutraceutical industry. He has established seven (7) business enterprises and two (2) research labs for scientific R&D and Innovation. Prof. Lowe has filed two (2) pharmaceutical products with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Orphan Drug Status, one of which was approved in June 2017, and received orphan drug designation for the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He is also the holder of five (5) patents based on the areas of his research in nutraceuticals and chronic diseases. Along with Drs. West and Lockhart, Prof. Lowe developed the first commercial product from Ganja for the treatment of Glaucoma.

Prof. Lowe is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Medicine, University of Maryland, USA, Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Ethno-medicinal Chemistry, University of Technology, Jamaica and Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Mona.


Dr Motlalepula Matsabisa, University of Free State

Dr Matsabisa has a PhD in Pharmacology. He is currently the Director of the Indigenous Knowledge Systems (Health) Lead Programme (IKS) at the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State. He served on Medicines Control Council and he is a current member of the Complementary Medicines Committee of Medicines Control Council (MCC). Dr Matsabisa serves on the DOH Traditional Health Practitioners Council and Chairs the Research and Health Committee of the same council. Dr Matsabisa is also a member of the WHO Afro Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicines. He serves in the Steering Committee on Regional Initiative on Traditional Medicines and HIV and AIDS in Eastern & Southern Africa (RITMA). Dr MG Matsabisa is also an advisory member of the Indian Traditional Medicines Systems. He is also a member of the steering committee on access and benefit-sharing review of the Biodiversity Management Act. He is also a member of the SA Military Health Services (SAMHS) PHIDISA III project. Dr Matsabisa is also a member of the SADC committee on access and benefit –sharing and has served as a technical advisor to SADC secretariat and WHO on traditional medicines. He serves on the MRC Scientific Peer review Committee. Dr Matsabisa has on 4 consecutive terms participated in the African Ministers of Health meetings, been part in 3 occasions of the AU –STRC meetings and has been a temporary technical advisor to SADC secretariat. He has just recently been nominated in the WAC in Kolkata India 2016 to serve in the international committee set up by the Indian Government to look at the Indigenous communities’ interests and research.

Dr Matsabisa has liaised and has developed good relations with traditional communities and healers. He has developed a models for fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of natural resources and information with traditional communities and healers. He has been involved in training projects and workshops for communities on project management, basic business development skills, on contracts and research. He is currently developing platforms for front-end research and development of traditional medicines. Dr Matsabisa is currently setting up clinical trial platforms for assessing, evaluating claims for cures based on the use of traditional medicines and possible mechanisms of action/s of these products. He is now involved in entrepreneurship training of indigenous communities and running poverty alleviation projects  based on the promotion of the application of scientific research into practical implementation of projects oriented to creating permanent sources of income, promoting the development of sustainable enterprises and their integration into the value adding processes of industrial development and commercialization of products derived from medicinal plants.

Dr Matsabisa has supervised honours, MSc, PhD and postdoctoral internship program for students in the pharmacology of traditional medicines research projects. He has publications in natural products. He has mentors number of NRF interns. Currently at UFS he has Pharmacology PhD, MSc and Honours students he is supervising and a group of Postdoctoral fellows under his mentorship. He made numerous presentations both nationally and internationally on issues of traditional medicines research, traditional knowledge, and benefit-sharing and intellectual property rights. He has also made numerous plenary lectures and scientific presentation at both local, regional and in international scientific fora and where in most of these he has been invited as the guest speaker He co-authored the Traditional Healer’s Primary Healthcare handbook and Guidelines for the Pre-clinical Evaluation of the Safety of Traditional Herbal Antimalarials. He holds a PCT and patent on 7 novel compounds isolated from a medicinal plant with antimalarial action. He has license agreements with industry on the research products he developed during his research activities.


By | 2017-11-30T11:59:18+00:00 October 9th, 2017|