Congratulations to one of our newly formed VOSH chapters in Ghana, ably led by Dr. Abena Ntim, OD MSC, who had their first outreach mission in March.

Dr. Ntim and VOSH Ghana, in conjunction with Rotary Club of Accra West, organised a free eye screening and education for the people of Kitase and the surrounding community on March 19, 2016. VOSH and the Rotarians, 24 optometry students from KNUST School of Optometry and local dignitaries worked together on this historical event.

Held at the Kitase primary school, Dr. Ntim reports that “the program started at 9am in the morning with a brief education on how to take care of the eyes and some symptoms of common eye problems that need medical attention. A total of 152 people were screened with 55 children and 97 adults. 74 of them were given eye glasses and 81 of them received medication. 48 of them were also referred to the nearest eye center for further management.”

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Dr. Ntim also shared that “Common eye conditions seen were cataract, glaucoma, retinopathies, refractive errors, presbyopia and allergic conjunctivitis. The commonest eye condition seen in the children was vernal conjunctivitis and among the elderly was presbyopia. Cataract and refractive error were the second highest in the adults and children respectively.”

The VOSH Technology Transfer Program (TTP) was able to provide acuity charts, trial lens sets, ophthalmoscopes and retinoscopes to VOSH Ghana. Arrangements are being made to supply them with more scopes, trial lens sets and trial frames, pen lights, readers and frames for their future outreach clinics.

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Dr. Ntim has the admirable goal of four outreach clinics a year. Thanks to Dr. Mark Rakoczy, OD , from VOSH-PA for providing mentorship to Dr. Abena as she organized her first outreach. The partnership between the Rotary Club of Accra West and VOSH-GHANA hopefully will endure for years to come and be a model for other African nations as VOSH chapters evolve.

Ellen L. Weiss, OD, FVI, President

Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

Due to an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 infections, a new variant that is more contagious, and these being early days in the vaccination distribution, VOSH/International DOES NOT recommend that chapters participate in domestic or international eye and vision clinics at this time.

We reiterate that at a time when the coronavirus continues to spread quickly in many parts of the world and vaccinations are not yet available to local populations, the risk of close contact with patients in a crowded outpatient environment remains high.

If a VOSH Chapter or VOSH volunteer chooses to hold a clinic against our best guidance, this is done at your own risk, by your own decision and should be in line with current local/national government rules.  VOSH/International would like to reiterate that 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.  You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here

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 patience in these unprecedented times, hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

January 2021