The Impact of VOSH in 2018 

VOSH has grown tremendously since its inception by Dr. Franklin Harms in the early 1970’s.  In 2018, VOSH counted 84 Chapters worldwide with thousands of VOSH members that provided care in over 100 clinics.  VOSH provided eye care to thousands of people in need both in our own communities and around the world.  However, that is not all that VOSH did….

VOSH is working hard in many different ways to contribute to global optometry and helping all to access eye care. VOSH/International has several key projects including:

  • Data Collection to contribute to the global knowledge base of vision loss, blindness and the need for eye care
  • MOVE (Motivating Others to VOSH Excellence) launched the Ambassadors’ Programsharing of education and expertise in specific areas such as contact lenses, low vision, ocular health, and primary optometry by supporting experts (VOSH/International Ambassadors) to visit emerging VOSH and SVOSH chapters 
  • Technology transfer program had a big year by providing equipment to the new optometry school in Haiti
  • VOSH Corps continue to help recruit and place faculty members at newly established Optometry schools
  • Resource for VOSH chapters for domestic and international work

You can read more about these efforts and how you can get involved on our website at vosh.org.

VOSH/International is proud to be a continued part of the philanthropic community in eye care.  Vision Care Product News (VCPNz) published a wonderful edition that highlights this community in their ‘Philantra-Optic Section’; you can read more about it here:  

https://www.visioncareproducts.com/digital-edition-december-2018/

Looking forward to everyone’s continued and expanded efforts in 2019!  

Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI

President VOSH/International

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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