'To have received this prize as a young scientist is an absolute inspiration, a big encouragement to want to do more, and to put in extra effort. It has truly increased my enthusiasm for my work.' These are the words of Murunwa Madzinga, a master's student in Medicinal Plant Science at the University of Pretoria after she recently won the first prize for a poster presentation at the 2017 Indigenous Plant Use Forum (IPUF) conference.
The title of her winning poster is 'Formulation of herbal soap using South African Plants with antibacterial and antifungal activity'.
Murunwa's studies in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences focuses on the validation of some of the medicinal plants indigenous to South Africa that are traditionally used for treatment of skin infections. In her honours study, she investigated the efficacy of some of the plants used against bacterial and fungal skin pathogens. The extracts showing the best activity were then infused into a herbal soap that was then evaluated against these pathogens.
'Over the years, the occurrence of skin diseases has increased in most parts of the world because of their association with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). More than 80% of people infected with HIV develop skin diseases at some stage of the disease. As South Africa is one of the countries with the largest populations of HIV-infected people and also the country with the largest prevalence of HIV, it can be said that a large percentage of the national population suffer from skin infections at some point. With this research, I would like to contribute to the primary health care system, especially in rural areas where access to and availability of health care is still problematic.'
'I also want to thank my supervisors, Dr Quenton Kritzinger and Prof Namrita Lall. I would not have succeeded without their help,' says Murunwa.
Other than doing her MSc research and tutoring undergraduate modules, she enjoys reading, hiking and playing with her dogs.