Harry I. Zeltzer, OD, DOS, FVI, FAAO served VOSH/International in its formative years from 2001 to 2013 as President, Executive Director and Webmaster. He practiced optometry in Waltham, Mass for thirty-five years where he invented and patented a contact lens for treating color deficiency known as X-CHROM. it is currently in production as a soft and hard contact lens. During private practice, he was a consultant to Helen Keller International for its development of the “Childsight” program. He also served at Natick Lab as a Lt Col (USAR) researching the effect of military stress on the visual system. After retiring from private practice and the military he committed to humanitarian service with VOSH/International.

Dr. Zeltzer’s VOSH experience began in 1985 as co-founder and president of the New England chapter (VOSH-ONE). He served more than 50 fifty missions in the Americas, Eastern Europe, Africa and in the Indian Health Service.

Dr. Zeltzer was recognized as the Essilor-UNESCO Humanitarian of 2003, the Honorary Doctor of Ocular Science of the New England College of Optometry in 2004 from where he graduated in 1952 and the VOSH/International Lifetime Achievement Award 2008. Since 2013, he is an Adjunct Professor of Optometry in the Department of Specialty and Advanced Care at the New England College of Optometry. Dr. Zeltzer lectured and published numerous articles of color deficiency which are referenced in the X-CHROM manual online portal for NECO faculty and students.

Dr. Zeltzer is a life member of the AOA, the American Academy of Optometry and the New England College of Optometry. He is a Fellow of VOSH/International (FVI) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO).  He is Director Emeritus of Friends of ASAPROSAR (Association of Salvadoran Rural Health). During WW11 he served in the occupation of Japan.

Dr. Zeltzer can be reached at zeltzer@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