We are pleased to announce VOSH-Virginia as September’s Chapter of the month! 

Working in remote and rural areas, providing quality eye care across its home state, and so much more, VOSH-Virginia is selected by VOSH/International as the September 2018 VOSH Chapter of the Month. Read on for their dynamic approaches:

VOSH-Virginia partnered with Remote Area Medical (RAM) Virginia to increase access to quality vision services. Over 6,000 individuals in rural and remote areas in Virginia gained access to volunteer optometric services. Services included eye exams, dilation, follow-up services for cataracts and glaucoma, and prescription eye glasses.

As a result, over $5,000,000.00 in free services were provided to individuals across Virginia. (NB: this selection was made prior to the passing of RAM’s founder and magnificent leader Stan Brock memorialized at https://www.ramusa.org/remembering-stan-brock/ )

VOSH-Virginia works throughout the year to grow and facilitate high quality eye professional volunteers. Through Remote Area Medical of Virginia, volunteers were provided with equipment, medications, frames and lenses to operate larger scale 2-3 day events. VOSH-Virginia volunteers were able to perform 2,239 eye exams and provide 3,232 pairs of prescription glasses. Each volunteer is provided with an enriching experience. Volunteers have a personal connection with the patients and culture of specific clinic locations and return each year to help that community.

VOSH-Virginia is also dedicated to the overall health of the patients. As such, the optometrists are able to connect patients with high quality medical services to treat contributing diseases such as diabetes. Over 10% of patients treated at these clinics are found to be new onset diabetics who were unaware of their conditions. Screening for such disease help to prevent conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy.

Congrats VOSH-Virginia!

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 and boosted, 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 and its variants are 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 or 2022.

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 Organization: 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.

Michael Ciszek, OD, dipl ABO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

December 2021