NRF-SAASTA invites VUT Senior Lecturer Dr Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye to Facilitate Webinar on the Role of Traditional Medicine in Modern Healthcare Systems

Selina Rapulane

The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) is proud to announce that one of its own innovators,
Dr Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye has been identified by the National Research Foundation-South African Agency for Science Technology Advancement (NRF-SAASTA), as facilitator of a webinar on the Role of Traditional Medicine in Modern Healthcare Systems, scheduled to take place during the first week of April 2022.

Dr Qwebani- Ogunleye, fondly known as Dr T, is a Senior Lecturer in the Biotechnology and Chemistry Department. She also serves as the Project Manager – VUT Traditional Medicine Unit.

The primary purpose of the webinar is to contribute to profiling the field of indigenous knowledge systems, especially highlighting the role of traditional health practitioners in healthcare – in rural and urban areas. The webinar seeks to present findings that South Africa has integrated traditional medicine into its modern healthcare system. The discussions at the webinar will highlight cases where both sets of practitioners have collaborated to address the needs of their patients.

“Getting an invitation from the NRF-SAASTA to facilitate this webinar is a great honour, and I am very excited. This opportunity is an additional feather on our cap as the VUT community. Also, learning of other universities and stakeholders that have been invited indicates the pivotal role we are all playing in bridging the gap between Science and the Society and Science and Policy”, said Dr T.

SAASTA is responsible for coordinating the public engagement for the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) priority research fields, including energy, nanotechnology, indigenous knowledge systems, palaeosciences, etc. The webinar is part of the priority area public engagement initiative that aims to discuss the role of traditional (African, Asian, etc.) medicine in the healthcare systems and its relationship with conventional medicine.

To add more good news, DSI is also giving VUT a platform in the National Systems of Innovation through collaboration with the university.
“I am all smiles; this year looks promising. We recently received an invitation from DSI to discuss collaboration in one of the projects. I am looking forward to this collaboration as well as the fact that one of our articles was accepted in Nature- a British weekly scientific journal founded and based in London,” she elaborated.

As much as she inspires young people, Dr T is also inspired by them. In her role as a supervisor for postgraduate students, Dr T always motivates her students to embrace what has been entrusted in their care. She also uses these platforms to activate excellence and hunger for greatness.
“My appetite and desire for greatness was triggered by one of my mentors when I was doing my PhD. It gave me the perspective that this has to do with self-leadership, the ability to lead yourself from one point to personal improvement and development, and this is an ongoing process.”
She serves as a Co-Chair for the 2022 South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). She participates in science engagements to create awareness and equip young people with knowledge while also learning from them. “What is essential in this era is the correct mindset and skills set to navigate the ever-changing future opportunities, which is achieved through collective leadership.”

Reminiscing about the Traditional Medicine Unit, she said. “It has not been an easy journey as this space is unchartered in the local context, and sometimes it felt like we were going against the grain of ”normal” pharmaceutical Research and Development. However, I am honored to be among the pioneers, and great strides have also been made by those that came before us. We have several postgraduate students who have graduated, prototypes ready for commercialization, and hosted the 1st International Conference on African Traditional Medicine”.

“We have also written about how far we are in this space as a nation on the conversation – a collective effort between VUT, North West University, and Department of Science and Innovation. The title of the paper is; What South Africa is doing to protect and share traditional medicine resources. Follow the link is below for more information.