For its repeated and marvelous support of the people of the Dominican Republic, and its many activities, we are proud to recognize VOSH-Nebraska as the VOSH June Chapter of the Month. 

Lindsey Behrendt, O.D. Nebraska-VOSH Chapter Member submitted the following report. Ellen Weiss, OD, FVI is the VOSH-Nebraska’s marvelous President:
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On January 8-11, 2018, Nebraska VOSH and associated VOSH members provided vision care to the people of Santiago and the surrounding communities in the Dominican Republic. The clinic was held at the Creighton University ILAC (Institute for Latin American Concern) Mission. 

Twenty-one volunteers from Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and Oklahoma participated in the trip, including six optometrists and eight optometry students. 

The group saw 812 patients throughout their four-day clinic, and they dispensed 564 pairs of glasses on-site, not including sunglasses, lens cases, and other supplies dispensed. They custom ordered 57 pairs of glasses for patients that had prescriptions that were not able to be provided on-site and these will be dispensed to the patients in the following few weeks after their departure. The team referred 191 patients for further care and treatment, including cataract surgery, retina, strabismus, and glaucoma consultation. 

A team of surgeons will be at ILAC in March to perform surgeries and provide follow-up care for those patients in need. The trip was an extremely rewarding experience for all those involved and the group was met by thankfulness and grace from the Dominican community! 

Video link : https://www.facebook.com/IlacMission/videos/2092361267654213/

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