Changing lives: Tackling the epidemic of obesity

By Dr. Walter Vermeulen 16 July 2018, 12:00AM

Talofa Samoa!

M.E.T.I. is thankful to N.H.S. for having invited us last year to open our Medical Clinic at Motootua. This has definitely allowed us to reach out to a larger segment of the population compared to the days when our Clinic was located at Tuanaimato. 

However, the big question still remains: how can a small N.G.O. like M.E.T.I. spread its health promoting messages to the thousands and thousands of N.C.D. sufferers, who feel miserable and incapacitated and are at a real risk of dying from their disease at an early age? 

We write this Health column in the Samoa Observer, which allows our message to reach those, who read the newspaper. 

And we do receive occasional coverage over TV, like how M.E.T.I’s whole foods, plant based nutrition program made a difference to the participants in the Fika Fou program. 

However, the most effective way for Samoa to tackle this ‘epidemic’ of Obesity and N.C.D. will be if each village community throughout the country becomes knowledgeable about the causes of it and becomes empowered to take communal action to return to the healthier eating habits Samoa was used to a generation or two ago. As one of the recent pioneers in reversing diabetes notes: “…understanding how powerful bad influences can be, especially with society’s approval and promotion of addictive eating, leads to the inescapable conclusion that healthful behaviours can be just as contagious if you are surrounded by health-conscious people. One powerful secret to a slim body and good health is to cultivate friends who are supportive and can share a healthy eating style with you.” 

Among the many persons that attended M.E.T.I’s Health Seminars over the past year and reversed their medical conditions by strictly adhering to the W.F.P.B. diet are several high-ranking chiefs and orators and Church Ministers. 

Their desire to see other N.C.D. sufferers in their community reverse their N.C.D. prompted them to invite M.E.T.I. to start an integrated program in their respective villages.

We are so happy to be able to announce that thanks to C.S.S.P. funding M.E.T.I. is now starting such community Healthy Living programme in four villages: Letogo and Salamumu on Upolu and Vaiafai (Iva) and Samalaeulu on Savai’i. 

The question we posed earlier: ‘How can a small N.G.O. like M.E.T.I. reach out to the many villages around the country?’ The answer is ‘by training community workers in each village, who in turn spread the word among their people’. M.E.T.I’s ‘Taiala’ program operational since 2010, and initially funded by the Samoan government, does just that. 

The ‘Taiala’ (Samoan for ‘path-breakers’) are defined as ‘frontline health, education and sustainable development workers’. They are sons and daughters of the villages in which they live and work and thanks to the respect and trust they command, can be considered as individuals, to whom the other village folk will listen to, provided –and we are very conscious of this proviso- they have been well trained and infused with the passion to want to help their neighbors. In this way, they can become ‘internal agents of change’ (or ‘internal animators’). The work the Taiala are engaged in can be collectively expressed as ‘animation’ work to raise awareness so that people take control of their life and develop attitudes that will make it easier to regain their Health and engage in the other supportive activities like Kitchen Garden development and organic farming. In each of the participating villages the Taiala, in consultation with the women’s committee will decide how many members of the committee should be tasked to ensure that the Healthy Living message reaches all village households.

It has to be highlighted that the selection of the 4 participating villages was a direct result of M.E.T.I. being invited to start the Healthy living project in these particular villages by prominent individuals, church ministers and respected village elders, who themselves have adopted the W.F.P.B. nutrition and –as ‘opinion leaders’- wish for the rest of the village population to become knowledgeable about its benefits. It is expected that these influential village leaders will facilitate project implementation.

M.E.T.I. has started Taiala training this week in order to equip the trainees with the necessary skills to be able to effectively spread the Health message throughout the community. This is a one year project: M.E.T.I. expects that at the end of the project the W.F.P.B. nutrition will have been adopted by most N.C.D. sufferers and that we will witness a dramatic decline in the incidence of these diseases in the selected villages. We will keep the readers updated on important milestones as the project progresses. 

We present in this Health Column the remarkable story and testimony of Mr Fonoia ANZAC Day Fitu, who recovered full control after he suffered stroke by following the W.F.P.B. nutrition programme.


Fonoiā Anzac Day 

Fitu’s testimony 

To God be the glory, for his healing through others help. It’s great opportunity for me to thank the Director and the M.E.T.I’s staff at Motootua for this help. 

The fat I carried before was like a burden that I carried from the bottom of the valley to the top of the mountain. Because the fatty foods that I love also the soft drinks was not allowed in this programme. I’ve got three weeks try to get used of this new lifestyle. 

It’s including the foods that made from the white flour is not allowed because of reversing these N.C.D. diseases.  

I started in April this year on my new Programme. I’ve noticed from that time till now a very big difference not only with my weight but I feel that my strength is back again because I love this Whole Foods Plant Based Nutrition. 

I had a stroke and I could hardly walk. I took some pills for hypertension. But it got worse and worse.

I went to one of the Private Doctors and that Doctor referred me to M.E.T.I. My blood sugar and blood pressure was normal. 

I couldn’t raise my right hand too high and also my left leg. 

Now my stroke has been reversed, because I’m 100% on the diet. The key for this programme is you. You can do it! 

I challenge you people suffering from these diseases because of these fatty food to visit M.E.T.I. at Motootua in Accute 7 for help. 


*If you, reading this column or any of your family or friends are suffering from NCD, it might be wise to come to the METI Clinic at Motootua to enroll in our Health Seminars to get all the details of how to start the life-saving WFPB nutrition program. You can reach us at 7239297 during working hours, 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.

By Dr. Walter Vermeulen 16 July 2018, 12:00AM

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