The University of Botswana participated in the Global Expo 2019 which was held in Gaborone recently under the theme: Harnessing the power of emerging markets for economic growth.
Professor of Pharmacognosy (the study and search of drugs from natural sources) at the School of Pharmacy of the University of Botswana, Professor Daniel Motlhanka, who was part of exhibitors, presented on the role of exploiting traditional medicinal plants to produce medicines for life threatening diseases.
Professor Motlhanka has 15 years experience exploiting natural resources and indigenous knowledge systems for drug discovery for life threatening diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, chronic joint pains, diabetes, hormonal problems and diseases that affect blood flow to the male reproductive system leading to impotence.
In one of his projects, "Exploiting watermelon from Botswana’s rural farmers to make new medicines", Professor Motlhanka uses watermelons to produce medicines for high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction (“Nutroherbo” Lycopene and watermelon citrulline enriched natural medicine for high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction).
Through his research, Professor Motlhanka says his aim is to help the University of Botswana realise its vision of a leading centre of academic excellence underpinned by impactful research that addresses national food security challenges and health problems associated with notorious life threatening diseases.
Professor Motlhanka believes that it is critical for UB to harness its brainpower to exploit all means of research to solve national challenges. Consequently, interventions such as exploiting traditional plants like watermelons to produce medicines are some of the avenues through which the University can realise its dream of becoming a leading research centre, he says.
Therefore, Professor Motlhanka says his presentation at the Global Expo was, among others, intended to showcase the University as a vehicle through which government can achieve economic diversification. Such can also help government come up with new interventions and diversified streams of knowledge generation and innovation to address national challenges.
Incidentally, Professor Motlhanka’s scientific research in natural products particularly medicinal plants, is an untapped economic avenue through which the University of Botswana can become an epicentre for driving Botswana towards a knowledge-based economy.