So, what is a resolution anyway?  It can be defined as a firm decision to do (or not do) something, the action of solving a problem or contentious matter and the quality of being resolute or determined.  VOSH/International continues to be resolute in pursuing its goal of facilitating the provision and sustainability of vision care worldwide for people who can neither afford or obtain such care.  V/I is doing many wonderful things to provide care and promote optometry.    

As I step into the Presidency of VOSH/International,  and review my NY’s resolutions for VOSH, my Presidential goals are my resolutions for VOSH/International during my term.  I would like to focus on the following Presidential Goals:

  1. Promote and strengthening the work of VOSH Chapters within our own communities.  International trips are important, but happen 1-2x/year for a chapter.  What else can VOSH be doing?  With the challenges of healthcare, it is an unfortunate reality, that even in our own communities, people need help.
  • Develop resource center for chapters:  Essilor Vision Foundation for lenses, frame donations, good Samaritan law to protect volunteer doctors, exam and wavier forms, sources for reading glasses, sunglasses, collaboration with SEE for local cataract surgery
  1. Continue to inspire optometry students to be involved with VOSH after their graduation.  There are many volunteer organizations, but VOSH is uniquely optometry.  It is the grassroots optometric volunteer organization. 
  • Work to make VOSH clinic trips more recognized as valuable experiences for students, work with optometry schools and encourage students to participate.
  1. For international clinic trips, continue to make our work more meaningful by working within the continuum of sustainability.  Some ways to do this are partnering with local optometry and optometry schools, skills transfer and data collection.
  • Continue to partner with local optometry and optometry schools.  Increase VOSH Chapter awareness of and interaction with local optometry and optometry schools. V/I is doing many wonderful things to provide care and promote optometry. 

Let’s get to work and make this new year a great one!

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