Help to Bring the Issue of Global Blindness to the Forefront

As one of the largest organizations that provides direct delivery service of eye care in the developing world, VOSH Chapters have the potential to make a significant contribution to alleviating the global burden of blindness and visual impairment by simply recording our data.

As direct delivery providers, we have the benefit of seeing many people from different communities around the world and we can easily incorporate surveys as part of our mission that can help with epidemiological studies in identifying the visual needs of a specific community.

One of the priorities of VISION/2020 is identifying communities with visual disability due to uncorrected refractive error (URE). VOSH projects can be an invaluable source of information for determining the prevalence of eye diseases and blindness from URE and an excellent way to rapidly assess the state of eye care in an underserved area. These projects can identify which communities are most in need and which communities are more likely to pay for eyeglasses and eye care. Different levels of poverty and accessibility require different types of approach to best alleviate the burden of uncorrected refractive error.

Our data can be an invaluable tool for advocacy groups like Brien Holden Vision Institute, Vision Impact Institute, Eyelliance, and other partner organizations with whom VOSH is working to bring the issue of global blindness to the forefront, so that it can be recognized as a public health concern to the same degree as malaria and river blindness is today.

UNIVERSAL OPTOMETRIC PATIENT FORMS

V/I has developed a universal patient form to be used by all chapters during their clinics as an invaluable way to capture optometric mission data to enhance the global fight against uncorrected refractive error & preventable ocular disease.

We will share this data with you and you can use it collected to anticipate the type of eye care issues will be treating, and apply for your own funding as well. This data will also be shared with national organizations, such as IAPB, WCO, to improve global humanitarian eye care delivery.

TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR YOU to help us collect data, we have developed two different options to assist in sending in your patient data.

The first form (Summary Clinic Form) is a simple form that allows online completion of basic demographic data, a file attachment, or both.  Upon completion, this form is automatically submitted to VOSH International (V/I).  The second form (Patient Intake Form) is more complex but is appropriate if you wish to analyze the data thoroughly, and perhaps even publish results.  If desired, the Patient Intake Form can serve as the data collection form for your clinic. However, for V/I purposes, we would prefer that you use the Summary Clinic Form.

Please start using one of these patient forms on your next mission trip.

If you choose to use the Patient Intake Form (Preference #2), please mail your completed forms to: 
Timothy Wingert OD, Rosenberg School of Optometry, 9725 Datapoint Drive, San Antonio, TX 78258
If questions, please contact mcalister@VOSH.org
Thank you!

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