Peru January 2016

In January 2016 Michel Listenberger, OD, FVI, (VOSH-MI) with a team of three St. Olaf students organized and conducted a mission trip to Cusco and Willoq, Peru.

A primary focus of this mission was to explore and experience the delivery of health care to Peru.  This consisted of a college undergraduate class that began with classroom learning in Northfield, MN and continued with three weeks in Cusco, Willoq and Ariqueppa.  Three students along with myself were assigned to eye care delivery although other students had the opportunity to rotate into the eye care area of delivery.  Eighteen students participated in a January interim term class.  This was the first time for eye care to be included in this project.

During the first week in Cusco we worked at an orphanage.  Other orphanages brought people into our clinic as well.  Here we saw 125 patients, mostly young people ages seven through eighteen. Here we found needs for about 25 pairs of glasses.  We also brought sunglasses from a student fundraiser for the children.  The clinic was conducted in the orphanage.

During our second week we were in Willoq about an hour from Cusco.  Here we examined the local population which was almost completely speaking their local dialect of Queshwa (interpreted into spanish).  Here we saw about 125 people who were mostly adults.

In all we used about 150 pairs of glasses and are storing the remaining glasses for a future trip.  There glasses made a huge difference for a lot of people since the youth certainly couldn’t afford the glasses and the Willoq community didn’t have access to eye care.  Three patients were referred to Dr. Nathan Henson (two for cataracts and one for glaucoma).

This was a first-time small trip but all objectives were achieved.

Respectively submitted,
With sincere appreciation,
Michel Listenberger, OD, FVI

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