Lesotho – Mountains of biosciences

Lesotho – Mountains of biosciences

In Lesotho, active research is being done in for example in the fields of food biotechnology and animal health, as well as HIV remedies and their potential interactions with ARVs. Other research topics touched upon included (but were not limited to) the effects of climate change on nutrition and health, point-of-care testing, the nutritional value of indigenous crops, active ingredients and therapeutic value of indigenous plants with cancer treatment potential, treatment of animal diseases, hormones in animal products and what their effects are on human health. These were some of the findings from the visit of the SANBio/BioFISA II Programme Unit to Lesotho from the 21st to the 22nd of January 2016.

During the visit the delegation held two workshops: one at the National University of Lesotho and the other at the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology with tremendous assistance from the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology, especially the Director of Science and Technology (DST) Mr Lefa Thamae and Senior Research Officer (DST) Mr Tsepo Ntho.

The workshop at the National University of Lesotho on 21 January was opened by Mr Thamae and the Vice Chancellor, Prof Nqosa Mahao. Prof Mahao elaborated on the existing cooperation between Lesotho and South Africa as well as the research on HIV that had taken place in the first phase of the BioFISA Programme. Prof Nqosa Mahao also stated that Lesotho has a unique opportunity in that it has a unique topography that allows one to observe a panoramic view of the world like no other place on earth, but as this is a usual sight for most in the country, it is impossible to see the opportunities available. Similarly in research, the Basotho have tremendous opportunities in terms of the natural resources available but these are not being utilised. Prof Mahao urged researchers to take advantage of the available opportunities to do research that impacts the communities.

Over 50 participants attended the workshop including students who were eager to get their research visible in the region, some have already started an initiative for female students in science – this is a commendable initiative and the BioFISA II team would like to applaud them on this!

A second workshop was held at the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology with representatives from Ministry, NGOs and the private sector. The workshop resulted in the establishment of a committee to liaise with SANBio on issues around an expert database, information dissemination and an equipment database. All stakeholders were keen to engage more with the SANBio Network and its programmes. It is expected that from this fruitful engagement, high impact research will be done in Lesotho through the opportunities provided by the NEPAD-SANBio/BioFISA II Programme.