Dr. Marina Roma-March is in touch with a Rotary Group which would like a VOSH team to do an eye care project in Jinotega Nicaragua, located 2-2 1/2 hour drive from the Managua airport on a very good highway. Please contact Dr. March at twecs@shaw.ca

The clinic is located about 20 minutes outside of Jinotega. It is the Centro Clinico “Nazareth” and is a facility recently  built by a Spanish charity specifically for the use of visiting health care professionals. It is located in its own compound and has a back-up power supply. There is also a surgical suite, if needed, for an eye surgeon. There is plenty of space for people to wait under shelter from the sun or rain. Photos of this clinic can be seen here.

The host would be AVODEC, a Nicaraguan NGO with extensive experience in hosting medical teams from outside Nicaragua. They have quite a bit of experience in helping health care people obtain Ministry of Health approvals and customs clearance of supplies and equipment. The accommodations would be at the Hotel Cafe in Jinotega, a family-run boutique hotel that is the most common accommodation for visiting medical teams. It has about 25 rooms and is very well run and secure. (President Obama’s Secretary of Labour stayed here a couple of years ago so it must have passed the Secret Service test.) Room rate is about $40US per night. Meals are an additional charge.

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