We have something exciting happening at VOSH. Michel Listenberger, OD, FVI and VOSH Historian is writing a book, “Bringing the World into Focus – A History of VOSH”. The origin of the book came about when Michel assumed the role of VOSH historian. As he sorted through the VOSH archives, read past newsletters, legal documents and stories that have been handed down through the years, the importance of preserving this part of VOSH history became apparent. Michel, a published author, brought the proposal of a VOSH history book to the board and we are happy to see this project develop. Why is this exciting? It’s important to know who we are and part of that is where we’ve come from. Many dedicated people have moved VOSH along so that is has become the wonderful international NGO that is it. The beauty of the book is that Michel has been able to interview many of the past presidents and board members. The book chronicles the origins and advancements of VOSH over the last several decades. Want to find out more about VOSH’s expansion into Africa, our TTP (Technology Transfer Program), chapter growth, and read funny, entertaining and emotional VOSH stories? All this will be in the 150-200 page history of VOSH book. You are invited to make a donation of any amount to support the upcoming book written by noted author and fellow VOSHer, Dr. Michel Listenberger. Donations are tax deductible. If you’re generous enough to donate $1,000 by April 15, 2016 your name will be “credited” in the front of the book.

Ellen L. Weiss, OD, FVI, President

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