May SVOSH Chapter of the Month

An amazing level of activity pre and post hurricane Marina, this is a wonderfully active and dedicated SVOSH chapter doing amazing work. Thanks to VOSH and others in the optometric community frames destroyed in Marina were replaced with frames and glasses. Some of the chapter’s Spring highlights are included below sent in by SVOSH Chapter President Adia McDuffey Walker, OD Candidate 2020 at Inter-American University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry:

Community missions
We performed eye screenings on over 100 shoppers at the Plaza Las Americas Health Fair in San Juan, PR. Our next event was a health fair in a Santurce urbanization in need, Cano Martin Pena where we screened over 50 residents. The last community mission trip of the semester was joining forces with the Puerto Rico Special Olympics. We performed sports vision assessments on over 50 differently-abled athletes from all over the island.

Student events
After the SVOSH re-launch, we had 10 new members join. At our first meeting, one of our lucky members won a copy of Bringing the World Into Focus by Michael Listenburger, OD. Thanks to SVOSH chapters and OD’s on Facebook, SVOSH IAUPR received over 800 pairs of donated glasses. Students have started sorting these frames in preparation for our school (SVOSH/LIONS/NOSA) mission trip to Panama City, Panama next October 2018.

The highlight of our semester was guest speaker John Spencer, OD! He inspired our student body with funny stories and realistic ways that we can eradicate world blindness through VOSH International. We received lots of positive feedback from the first year students on how much they enjoyed this meeting. Dr. Spencer also met with the SVOSH and Lions Club faculty advisors. This meeting has already started to open more doors for us here.

We were off to a slow start because of the accelerated post-Maria semester. But we are looking forward to a great 2018-2019 year!

Side note: Irina Yakubin (SVOSH Secretary) and myself have really benefited from the SVOSH Conference Calls. They help us to stay motivated about the VOSH mission and feel more connected with other chapters!

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 and boosted, 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 and its variants are 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 or 2022.

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 Organization:


US Government Travel Advise:

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

Michael Ciszek, OD, dipl ABO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

December 2021