President-Elect Tracy Matchinski and I had the honor of representing VOSH at the World Council of Optometry (WCO) meeting on September 11-13, 2017 in Hyderabad, India. The World Council of Optometry represents optometrist throughout the world and advocates for the advancement of the profession. It’s always educational to me to interact with other organizations that represent optometry on a global basis, especially in developing countries where optometry clinics may be scarce, schools of optometry may not exist, or optometry is not recognized as a profession.

The WCO meeting offered a wide variety of excellent continuing education classes. Doctor Matchinski and I presented a course titled “Evaluation and Management of pediatric patients with visual impairment and pediatric patients with special needs” and also a Poster on the progress of our VOSH Corps program. One highlight of the trip was when our VOSH Philippine Chapter saw on Facebook that we were attending the meeting and found us in the exhibit hall to say hello. It’s always a pleasure visiting with our chapters, especially those international ones that we rarely have a chance to connect with personally. 

After the meeting, Dr. Matchinski spent two days lecturing at the LV Prasad Eye Institute symposium to optometrist from many different countries. Thanks to Dr. Vijaya Gothwal and her co-workers for touring me through their state of the art facility.

I look forward to seeing you at the VOSH Annual Meeting in Chicago on Saturday, October 14, where our theme “Winning Together” reflects my belief in our strength in numbers.

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