The VOSH 2015 annual meeting, held October 9-10, 2015 in New Orleans, was packed full of information for our chapters to take back for implementation in their clinics, both locally and internationally. Much thanks to National Vision for their sponsorship, as their support made our meeting possible.

World Sight Day was Thursday, October 8 and 2015 is the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. To commemorate, VOSH, with support from VSP and Optometry Giving Sight, conducted a free clinic outreach at the Sanchez Recreation Center. Located in the Lower Ninth Ward, this free clinic to perform free eye exams and provide free glasses directly benefited the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. 

Friday a past president’s luncheon was followed by the VOSH board meeting. That evening all attendees met for a cocktail reception honoring the Fellows of VOSH International.

The Saturday morning session highlights included presentations from the World Council of Optometry, American Optometric Society, Remote Medical Access, Optometry Giving Sight, Brien Holden Vision Institute, Vision Impact Institute, Restoring Vision, Mexican Optometric Association and Surgical Eye Expeditions. Much information was gained by the individual chapters to benefit planning future clinics.

The afternoon had informative breakout sessions with SEE (Surgical Eye Expeditions), working with North American and International student-VOSH chapters, sustainable Clinic Development, and hands-on technology.

A highlight of the meeting was a Skype dialogue from Nicaragua with our VOSH Corp placement, Dr. Justin Manning. Dr. Manning summarized his weekly schedule as he embarks on his teaching career, and was surprised with a President’s Circle Award. Other award winners were Max Bruss (President’s Circle Award), Dr. Victoria Weiss (Humanitarian of the Year), and Dr. Greg Pearl (Lifetime Achievement Award).

I hope you will join us in 2016 VOSH/International Annual Meeting on Sunday November 13, 2016 in Anaheim, CA, following the AAO meeting.

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