UPDATE: VOSH rated highly with regard to preserving eye care in Dominica

Opthalmologist, Dr. Hazel highlighted VOSH’s contribution to preserving eye care in Dominica

Dominicans wanting eye treatment began queuing early this morning, Thursday, at Goodwill parish hall for the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) program to open its doors at 10.00am. Today is the last of the VOSH clinics in Dominica for this year, and by nine o’clock some 200 persons were estimated to be outside.

“It’s been a long wait, but it will be worth it,” said one 60-year-old man, who, after queuing for three hours, was waiting to collect his new glasses. “It’s a great help for Dominicans, especially for older people with eye problems. You get an eye examination and, if you need it, a pair of glasses for EC$25.

Yesterday local ophthalmologist, Dr Hazel Shilingford-Ricketts, said that VOSH was making a great contribution to preserving eye care in Dominica.

VOSH is an international organization of volunteer optometrists  and health care workers whose purpose is to preserve eyesight and correct visual impairment, by providing free eye care, creating sustainable eye clinics, holding short term missions and supporting new schools of optometry in developing countries.

Dr. Ricketts was speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, to commemorate the 20th mission of VOSH to work Dominica.

“In collaborating with VOSH, a number of objectives have been met for the eye program in Dominica. You may have heard me speak over and over again, about vision 20/20 and this is a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative to eliminate preventable causes of blindness by the year 2020,” she said.

Dr. Ricketts mentioned five different eye problems that we, in the Caribbean have to address: Cataract, which is the leading cause of blindness, Glaucoma, Diabetic’s Retinopathy, childhood blindness and refractive errors, “and VOSH has contributed in helping Dominica to address these problems of blindness in Dominica,” she said.

“For one, they refer patients with the eye diseases and also, by providing glasses to patients who cannot afford to buy their glasses and have contributed in improving the vision of these patients and so, VOSH is an integral part of our vision 20/20 program. In addition to the mission, they also donate valuable equipment to the eye clinic…eye drops especially eye drops which is not readily available in Dominica or which are expensive,” she pointed out.

Riketts said these eye drops are given to patients at the hospital free of charge and there are times when they take their equipment back to the USA for repairs, “So we have benefitted tremendously in the eye program in Dominica.”

Meantime President of the Rotary Club of Dominica, Robert Tonge, said that the team has been on island for four days now and their last clinic will be at the Goodwill parish hall today, Thursday.

“In the four days we are planning to see 1800 to 2000 people and I mean that is a value of over 1.2 million dollars, and it says a lot.”

Tonge said further that the VOSH team has donated over $40,000 worth of eye drops.

“And that has been going on for the last 20 years, and you can really see the true value that we bring to the people of Dominica, and all of this is also possible through the assistance of the government of Dominica who provide duty free concessions, waivers of departure taxes and the provision of transportation to the various clinics”.

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  1. Rotarian
    January 21, 2014

    This article gives the impression that the VOSH mission is organized by Dr. Ricketts. While she, as well as the Ministry of Health are partners in this project it has been organized and executed for the last twenty years by the Rotary Club of Dominica, of which no mention is made.

    The article also fails to mention the locations of the other clinics that were held during the week: Portsmouth on Monday, Marigot on Tuesday, Grand Bay and St. Joseph on Wednesday.

    Each clinic began at 8am (8:30am for the latest), not 10am as the article states. By 10am on Thursday well over 150 people had already been brought in through the gates for screening.

  2. anonymous2
    January 18, 2014

    What type of eye drops are they handing out and for what conditions? The expensive ones need to be kept under refrigeration.

    January 17, 2014

    Thank you Dr Shillingford and VOSH for the help you gave to the NEEDY. I know Dr Shillingford care for the NEEDY and she is a kind lady. You was my x cate teacher. May God bless you all always.

  4. Andrew
    January 17, 2014

    Wonderful job VOSH. But the words from Dr Shillingford are hollow. I have a neighbour going blind from Glaucoma and she hasn’t seen him for 2 years, she keeps cancelling appointments in Portsmouth. And the eye drops – why are drops for Glaucoma $100 (double the price in Portsmouth as in Roseau) – a pensioner can’t afford that. Where is the blindness prevention she talks about?

  5. Dixi Normas
    January 17, 2014

    i want to know why the were told they cant see children?

  6. Simply the Truth
    January 16, 2014

    I am elated to read this informative and interesting article pertaining to providing eye care and eye glasses to those in need. Those who receive this service are indeed fortunate.
    I am informing you, Dominica has come a long way from those former days of my youth. There have been numerous changes in Dominica for the betterment of Dominica and nationals. This is one of it.
    Everyone should be ever so grateful to those as VOSH who provide such excellent service and eye care to fellow Dominicans. There is no doubt this care is the best and one to be extremely grateful for. A BIG THANK YOU TO YOU!
    Last evening I had a discussion with a lady who had an eye operation. I informed her a few years ago I heard on TV (or may have also read it in the newspaper) that a doctor stated, if eye patients were given “eye drops” (of course at an early stage of their eye illness) they would have no need for eye glasses and also eye operations.
    I informed the lady Murine eye drops were sold in Dominica in those days and some people used it. For instance if we had a minor problem, be it that an insect or dirt entered our eye, Murine would be used to wash them out. This would help.
    I bet that D/cans wish that VOSH would continue this medical eye care throughout the year. I suppose you have to go on to other islands/ countries.
    In this case and for this reason I also thank WHO for this service of funds. Countries in need of are not neglected. This is what it means helping those in need. God’s blessings abound to you!

  7. FemmeDominique
    January 16, 2014

    Thanks VOSH for your work and sacrifice in helping Dominica. Eye sight is so very important. It is a precious gift which we should not take for granted. Please take care of your eyes.

    January 16, 2014

    Great job Dr Shillingford we need proper eye care on island

    • playboy
      January 17, 2014

      What does this have to do with Dr. Shillingford?
      Say great job to Rotary and whoever else facilitates them coming here>

  9. Grand Bay Girl
    January 16, 2014

    This is wonderful news for Dominica.. Where else
    can one go and get this Free Care. Thank U Thank
    you VOSH. We are grateful and appreciative.

  10. anonymous
    January 16, 2014

    thank you vosh wish all well

  11. Hope
    January 16, 2014

    :) how nice! Thank you so very much voch.

  12. jane messam
    January 16, 2014

    Great job VOSH. What a tremendous effect in helping Dominica and the developing countries. And the government needs to be thanked as well for giving the necessary concessions – however small it all helps.

  13. pb
    January 16, 2014


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