12 November 2021 Volume :9 Issue :48

UKZN Doctoral Student Puts Traditional Medicine on International Stage

UKZN Doctoral Student Puts Traditional Medicine on International Stage
Ms Khanyisile Mngomezulu.

Discipline of Traditional Medicine PhD student Ms Khanyisile Mngomezulu’s abstract has been selected as the best in the Track A: Basic Science section and she has been invited to deliver the paper at the 2021 International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) next month.

The bilingual and biennial conference is hosted by anglophone and francophone African countries with the aim being to highlight the diverse nature of the African region’s HIV epidemic and the unique response to it.

Mngomezulu will join researchers, clinicians, and other health professionals to share knowledge and ideas on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, from basic science to global health.

‘This is my first international conference where I will be presenting orally, providing me with a great platform to present my current work and learn from people who are experts in HIV research,’ she said.

‘ICASA 21 will provide an opportunity for young scientists and researchers like myself to share our most recent findings. I feel it is also a platform for advocates and activists to engage with scientists in a way that’s not usually possible. Furthermore, it will provide an opportunity for learning, networking and sharing of information.’

Mngomezulu will present her study titled: Investigating the Potential of Traditional Medicines in Reactivation of Latent HIV-1, which focuses on finding traditional medicinal plants with the ability to reactivate latent HIV using laboratory models.

Supervised by Dr Mlungisi Ngcobo, Dr Paradise Madlala and Professor Nceba Gqaleni, her study was done in collaboration with researchers from the Simon Fraser University, the University of Pretoria, the Africa Health Research Institute (ARHI), and the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP).

‘The research has the potential to find a solution to a problem in the treatment of HIV which is the inability of highly active antiretroviral therapy to clear HIV copies in latently infected immune cells,’ she said.

‘The majority of the population continue to rely on their own traditional medicine obtained from traditional healers to meet their primary healthcare needs, however, the work of traditional healers is still seriously neglected.

‘My research project uses traditional medicines obtained from traditional healers as a form of community engagement with the medicines used already showing excellent anti-HIV activity. This study is the next step in validating their effectiveness,’ she said.

She is currently part of the Bicycles for Humanity initiative which provides bicycles in developing countries to assist children and young adults to get to school and work on time.

Mngomezulu holds a Master of Medical Science degree in Medical Microbiology, a BSc Honours degree in Medical Microbiology and BSc degree in Microbiology and Genetics, all from UKZN.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied

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