Chapter of Month – VOSH-Ghana

Flying off to a great start as the 81st VOSH chapter worldwide, our first Chapter of the Month for 2017 is VOSH-Ghana. VOSH-Ghana became a full fledged VOSH chapter in 2016 and has been extraordinarily active. Membership includes 10 certified doctors of optometry, and 3 others in diverse fields with technical support from final year students of the KNUST school of optometry.

Here’s a great opportunity to work with an active chapter in Ghana who welcomes and will host VOSH chapters on a mission to Ghana.

The Republic of Ghana along the Atlantic Ocean, is a territory inhabited for millenia. Present day Ghana is a multicultural nation, with a population of approximately 27 million, spanning a variety of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups.

Here’s the latest report from VOSH-Ghana:

With financial support from rotary club of Accra west, we have successfully organised two outreach missions in two regions in Ghana. A total of 419 people have had access to free eye care with 131 free eye glasses and 266 free medication. A total of 196 have been referred to various hospitals for further management. 87 of the people referred had cataract and 45 of them had refractive error

Vital eye care education provided included, printouts of informative eye health messages, information on common eye conditions, signs and symptoms of vision threatening conditions, first aid care, and common myths about the eye. We emphasize on the need for frequent eye check ups and medication compliance.

VOSH-Ghana Chapter President Abena Adjei Ntim, OD, MSC outlined an active and expanded future for the chapter. “We look forward to organising missions three times in a year so as to be able to reach out to more people. This involves inclusion of surgical sessions in our missions especially for people with cataracts. People with refractive errors will also be given spectacles as well. We are fulfilling our humanitarian obligations by reaching out to the less privileged, and giving clinical exposure for the final year optometry students who provide technical support. We are very interested in hosting any chapter that will work with us.”

CONGRATULATIONS TO VOSH-GHANA, CHAPTER OF THE MONTH.

If you would like your chapter to be selected as a VOSH Chapter of the Month, please write a summary of your service within the past year (200 words or less) and send three pictures of your chapter’s activities by email to chapterofthemonth@vosh.org.

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