I had the opportunity to attend the Our Children’s Vision Partners Meeting on February 5th and 6th, 2018 in Chilaw, Sri Lanka.  Our Children’s Vision is a global effort lead by Brien Holden Vision Institute and has 73 partner organizations, one of which is VOSH/International.  Attending the meeting were 50 participants representing 25 of the partner organizations.  This is a powerful initiative by the Brien Holden Vision Institute with the purpose “to upscale, accelerate and expand access to eye health services to more children in more locations”.  To date, this program has screened 18 million children with the goal of providing services to 50 million children by 2020. They have developed guidelines and work towards sustainable system change.  Mechanisms of this campaign include:

  • Powerful partnerships
  • Child eye Health services
  • Driving awareness
  • Local knowledge
  • Support for services

Our Children’s Vision is leading this call to action by:

  • Advocacy for changes to policy, practice and financing
  • Health education and promotion
  • Research
  • Practioner and Health Worker education
  • Harness Technology driven solutions
  • Disability Inclusiveness
  • Alignment with child health, welfare and development policies, the SDGs and the GAP

Creating access to eyecare will enable children to access education and ensure best quality of life.  Children should not be hindered in their education because of a vision problem.  Children’s eye health must be part of children’s health and education and integrated into local health policies.  Our Children’s Vision is bringing all partners together for global development and consolidated efforts to drive sustainable change.  You can find out more information about this campaign and lend your support at https://ourchildrensvision.org/

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: 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.

Michael Ciszek, OD, dipl ABO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

December 2021