An inspiring and exemplary year involving more than 100 students and doctors, year long fundraising and helping nearly 10,000 patients. Read this description from a model SVOSH Chapter as submitted by Melissa Pongratz:

Led by an extraordinary and dedicated executive team of seven students and one faculty advisor, SVOSH-SCO was able to send 116 students and doctors to eight countries throughout central and South America this May. Nearly 10,000 patients were able to receive what may be the only vision care they will have access to.

In preparation, students worked year-round to fundraise and prepare supplies, and would like to give a special thanks to our Lions Club partners domestically and abroad. A unique partnership with Rhodes College was initiated to provide small-group and country-specific discussion on customs, culture, and history prior to departure.

In partnership with World Relief Memphis, and with the support of Essilor Vision Foundation, we were able to host our first local clinic which saw 240 refugees and immigrants in the Memphis area. We would like to pay special recognition to our faculty advisor Dr. Beth Sparrow, each of our passionate in-country partners, all of our volunteers who joined us, and our domestic supporters. We are looking forward to another year of growth and positive impact in international healthcare alongside VOSH/International.
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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