VOSH Hosts Free Vision Clinic Providing Quality Eyecare

VOSH volunteers provide free, quality eye care around the globe, based on assessment of need, local access to quality care and local support.In doing so, VOSH builds strong relationships with local governments, health and eye care providers and provide opportunities to educate local educators and professionals, focusing on the development of sustainable clinics.

Our volunteers are licensed optometrists, opticians, health care providers and lay people. There are clinic trips both domestically as well as internationally, in over 30 countries, serving hundreds of thousands of patients.

VOSH Provides Optometric Equipment to Clinics and Locales In Need

The VOSH Technology Transfer Program (TTP) collects, restores and ships used optometric equipment, lenses and frames to needy clinics, teaching institutions, hospitals and NGOs where it can lead a new purpose and change lives. This vital service enables developing clinics and optometric programs to obtain necessary equipment to treat their local communities and train local optometrists to provide quality eyecare.

Promoting Optometric Education

One of the greatest impediments to the education of optometrists in developing countries is the lack of local optometry schools and the optometric educators to teach in these institutions.

As a solution to this global issue, VOSH is growing a new generation of optometrists in developing nations. In collaboration with other eye health care leaders, VOSH/International, has developed three initiatives to build optometric education worldwide: The VOSH Corps Program,  the Ambassador Program and the Mentorship Program. We invite North American ODs to serve in emerging optometric institutions as faculty and program development assistants, on either a long term (1-2 years) or a short term (minimum of 1 week) basis or to partner with international SVOSH chapters. The goal is that the education is carried on by the local students and optometrists who then teach and train others in their community. These are fantastic opportunities for those just entering the profession; those who are transitioning to retirement; or those looking for a new adventure.

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