VOSH is truly an International organization. I respect our colleagues at other organizations such as IAPB, OGS, BHVI, WCO, and the Vision Impact Institute for all of the great work they do on an international level to address the issue of uncorrected refractive error.

I just booked my flight to the IAPB meeting in Durban, South Africa where I will be presenting a poster on our Technology Transfer Program, where VOSH takes donated equipment and moves it to schools and clinics in developing areas. The three day meeting is full of exciting lectures. In addition to the education, I look forward to the opportunity to interact with colleagues from throughout the world. It’s treuely an exciting opportunity to be affiliated with these other organizations that are making a global impact.

VOSH is often referred to as the “boots on the ground”. We have organizations that fundraise, those that strategically plan, those that guide and educate, and those that are visionaries in the fight to eliminate uncorrected refractive error. VOSH brings a unique perspective on this, as we have dedicated souls that take time off of work, at their own expense, to go to areas of need. But, the vision impact we have is a small one on our own. So, being affiliated with other organizations that approach the issue of uncorrected refractive error from their perspective is so important and so gratifying. It’s wonderful to see these other entities, what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and realizing that together we’re all making a much bigger impact, all with the same end goal but each with a unique approach, is so gratifying.

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