Six-month healthy diet project hailed a success

By Gutu Faasau 10 March 2023, 11:00PM

A non-profit organisation on Friday celebrated the end of a six-month project within six village communities in Samoa who received training to plan and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.

The project was coordinated and led by the Matuaileoo Environment Trust Incorporated (METI) and was funded by a SAT$40,000 grant courtesy of the Ministry of Women, Community, and Social Development. The grant is part of wider efforts by the Samoa Government through the Ministry to eliminate non-communicable diseases in Samoa.

Widely known in Samoa for promoting organic plant-based diets, the METI has patients on its register who suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases and were able to reverse the impact of the diseases, by switching to healthier diets and lifestyles.

Twenty women participants were congratulated and awarded certificates for completing the METI plant-based diet training and are now able to impart that knowledge they learned from the project.

According to testimonies that pointed to the success of the METI program, a total of 405 people were reached during the six-month project with 72 per cent of them diagnosed with cases of NCDs, while 31 per cent of women who were affected by NCDs completed the program with no signs of the diseases. 

METI Executive Director Dr. Walter Vermeulen, who is a weekly columnist with the Sunday Samoan, said that this project was designed for the village's women’s committees because they play a huge role in the Samoan family diet.

“We have been able to get support of the women’s committee and with the help of MWCSD we got the funding for the project for six villages and we have now completed it,” Dr. Vermeulen said. 

“We didn’t want to just show that it works because we know that long ago it is the mechanism of how the community is involved in becoming knowledgeable about the diet with what foods to eat and not eat.

“We were able to get the strength of the women’s committee to support the progress of the program and we have achieved that. 

"As a result of this the women’s committees want to continue their monitoring and support role even though the project has come to an end.”

According to Dr. Vermeulen, METI will hold discussions with the MWCSD for the provision of some form of support for the women who want to continue their work that they started under the project.

“There are thousands of them around the country and by helping them with very simple food choices we are able to reverse these diseases and sicknesses for everyone in Samoa," he said. 

“We have had four months of intense identifications, coaching and follow up. These women have been trained and are very enthusiastic about it now. 

"We have been promoting a whole food plant based diet for reversal of NCDs for the last ten years.”

The project kicked off in August last year and was officially rolled out a month later in October 2022.

Dr. Vermeulen said that he had previously been diagnosed with hypertension, high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease. 

However, he said following a plant-based organic diet, he was able to overcome his health issues and in 2012-13 the Ministry of Health supported their work and started the METI healthy living clinic. 

“I am trying to get people from around the country to realize that by following a mostly plant based diet they can reverse this condition.

"These are conditions that you don’t have to have live with for the rest of your life but in a matter of weeks by following this diet strictly you will reverse all of these diseases.”


By Gutu Faasau 10 March 2023, 11:00PM
Samoa Observer

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