Donald Smith, OD is the Director of Professional Relations at National Vision Inc.

Nicola Chevis is the Chief Executive Officer of Vision Aid Overseas (VAO).  Nicola has a significant career with International Non-Governmental Organisations starting with Oxfam GB, GOAL Ireland as Country Director in Sierra Leone and with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) first as a Country Director in Vanuatu and then as their London-based global head of programming planning and monitoring and evaluation. Before joining VAO, Nicola worked for Save the Children International on their Global Campaign to reduce maternal and child mortality and as their Deputy Director. Since 1985, Vision Aid Overseas has been helping some of the world’s poorest people to access affordable eye care services.

Pelin Munis, PhD is the Executive Director of Restoring Vision.  Pelin is an accomplished professional, applied Psychologist and entrepreneur with more than 20 years of executive planning, administration, communications and marketing experience in for- and non-profit sectors.  Prior to joining RestoringVision, Pelin founded and operated a successful distribution company importing goods from Europe to the U.S. She has also worked as a consultant to non-profit organizations and government funded programs including for the Department of Justice and Florida Departments of Health and Human Services.

Elizabeth Smith is the co-founder & Chief Executive Officer of EYElliance. Elizabeth has been working in international development with a focus on inclusive business and increasing access to global markets. Before joining EYElliance, Elizabeth worked as a consultant for the UN Office of South-South Cooperation forwarding the work of the Creative Economy for Development Agenda. In 2011 she joined VisionSpring as Director of Business Development. Liz graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in Environmental Studies.

Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD.  Since 2002 Dr. Twelker works at the University of Arizona at the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science as Associate Clinical Professor.   He was the Site Principal Investigator for the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Ethnicity and Refractive Error from 2002 through 2012, which looked at the effect of ethnicity on eye growth and the need for spectacle correction. Since 2015 he is the President of VOSH-Arizona. In the fall of 2015, Dr. Twelker took leave of his position in Arizona to teach optometry at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Western Kenya. As a Board member of VOSH International, his main emphasis is to support and sustain optometry education efforts in developing countries such as Malawi, Kenya, and Mexico. Dr Twelker received his Doctor of Optometry and his Ph.D. in Vision Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

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