Meet This Year's VOSH/International Award Recipients

The DR. HARRY I. ZELTZER LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD is presented at the V/I Annual Meeting to a person recognized as an exemplary humanitarian by providing a lifetime of service to humanity through improving visual welfare through leadership, dedication, invention, public health, developing sustainable eye care and furthering the understanding and correction of refractive error. (To learn more about the eponymous Dr. Zeltzer, please click here.) This award is not an annual award but is awarded at the discretion of the V/I Board of Directors. The recipient of this award is recognized as one who meets the highest criteria that exemplifies the spirit of VOSH/International. http://vosh.org/about-us/awards/

The HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR AWARD is presented at the V/I Annual Meeting to honor an individual who has distinguished him or herself during the year by bringing eye care to underserved populations. The award recognizes a VOSH member who, during the year, has improved visual welfare through leadership, invention, public health, the development of sustainable eye care and the further understanding and correction of refractive error. http://vosh.org/humanitarian-of-the-year-award/

Chair, Technology Transfer Program

David Stacy, OD, USA

MSc. Severo Sánchez Melgarejo, Peru

Chair, Technology Transfer Program

David Stacy, OD, USA

Dr. Stacy graduated from Pacific University College of Optometry in 1978 after receiving his BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Arizona and serving in the United Stated Army for four and one half years. He was in private practice in Chandler, AZ until he retired and sold his practice in October 2019. He is a member of AOA and ASOA. Dr. Stacy has dedicated the last 10+ years to the development and execution of the VOSH/International Technology Transfer Program (TTP). VOSH, through TTP, collects, restores and ships used optometric equipment, lenses and frames to needy clinics, teaching institutions, hospitals and NGO’s. Dr. Stacy has served as President of the Arizona Chapter of VOSH, International for almost four years. He followed the founder of the Chapter, Dr. Ed Tuhy who provided a remarkable foundation and gathered many talented members for the Chapter. The 2013 Mission will mark a decade of service in Sonora, Mexico for the Chapter. Dr. Stacy speaks Spanish and uses the logistics he learned in the military to do his part in supporting the missions. The SVOSH, AZ Chapter, from MWU, College of Optometry, Glendale, AZ campus, has become an integral part of VOSH, AZ missions. The membership also includes several ophthalmologists who have opened a dialogue with SEE, International and the University of Arizona, Ophthalmology Department to address the possibility of supporting missions for cataract and pterygium operations. Very active Rotary and Lions Clubs in Sonora have proven to be excellent and reliable hosts and have worked beside the multitalented mission leaders to make the missions successful.

MSc. Severo Sánchez Melgarejo, Peru

Severo Sánchez is the founder and director of the Eurohispano Institute. The Institute has educated hundreds of optometry technicians, offered thousands of free eye examinations to Peruvians in need across the country and supported several VOSH chapters visiting the country. Dr Sanchez’s humanitarian work dates back from 2001 with several Rotary Clubs in Peru. In 2019 he was recognized as a member of the Franklin Harms Society with over 100 eye clinics in his record.

Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

VOSH/International recently consulted its US and International Chapters about the feasibility and timing to restart our humanitarian clinics. While the vaccination process continues with different levels of success depending on availability and acceptance, it is evident that vaccine inequity and the availability and reliability of data in several countries are issues we need to consider.

Even if already vaccinated, our chapters are still concerned about the wellbeing of our volunteers and patients.  Some chapters, are organizing clinics locally where they are better able to comply with the existing safety requirements and respective state/country regulations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is being experienced quite differently depending on state, region, country, vaccine availability, vaccine acceptance, and the spread of SARS-COV-2 variants. Most VOSH chapters are not holding clinics or traveling internationally in 2021.

Thus, VOSH/International is slightly moderating its overall guidance against clinics and travel issued in late March 2020 and renewed in January 2021. This will be reviewed and communicated on a quarterly basis.

If a VOSH Chapter choses to hold a clinic or travel internationally, we highly recommend that the chapter performs due diligence to comply fully with the requirements established by the visited country, ensures all VOSH volunteers are aware of and follow strict safety guidelines and all existing protocols and regulations of the country, and keeps the principle of “do no harm” embedded in all its decision making. As always, the wellbeing and safety for VOSH volunteers and our patients is of utmost importance and central to any decision-making process. We have published our updated clinic guidelines with best practices to be observed in this new context. VOSH chapters in specific countries are using protocols that need to be considered as well. You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here.

*VOSH/International is formed by autonomous US and international chapters that are fully and only responsible for their activities, fundraising and decision-making.  VOSH/International can only provide recommendations based on our best knowledge and information at the time.

Also please keep checking the following sites with official and most recent updates:

World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

US CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/when-to-delay-travel.html

US Government Travel Advise: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

July 2021