SEPTEMBER SVOSH CHAPTER OF THE MONTH:
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF OPTOMETRY

Another SVOSH chapter undertook the incredible task of organizing a trip to Africa on its own. Typically SVOSH-OSU travels to Central or South America for its annual trip. Traveling to Africa this year was a huge undertaking . But they report the experience was well worth the challenge. The 14 students and 3 doctors who attended this year’s trip are all so thankful to have met our Ghanaian patients!

Read on for the report submitted by OSU’s Carolyn Chakuroff. And look for their photos in the SVOSH Photo contest below.
——-

This year, Ohio State’s SVOSH organization traveled to 8 rural communities within the Eastern Region of Ghana. We provided full, dilated eye examinations to 691 patients over 4 days of clinic. Our partner, the St. Theresa Eye Clinic did an incredible job recruiting patients from these villages to our clinics and it was a true pleasure meeting the village chiefs and assembly coordinators who often got the first eye exam of the day as an example for their people.In addition, we worked closely with Dr. Emmanuel Owusu – a Ghanaian native who recently graduated with his Ph.D. from Ohio State. It was a special priveledge to work beside him providing eye care and education in his home country.

We referred 25 patients for cataract removal. Dr. Tom Mauger from the OSU Ophthalmology department and his resident completed 41 cataract procedures, including our referrals, the week after we left. Thanks to the support of our donors and VOSH International, we were able to leave behind a collection of sunglasses, hats, readers, frames, and lens blanks for the clinic to use with these patients after we are gone

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