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Jairo Antonio Mercado

Jairo comes from Nicaragua, a country where eye health needs are significant and eye health professionals insufficient. As a young optometrist teaching at the university (UNAN), Jairo offers his clinical and leadership skills to inspire the new generations of optometrists to engage fully in eye health services provision and fulfil the potential of this incredible profession.

He is very motivated and constantly learning as he wants his students to have access to the most updated and useful knowledge. He is multifaceted and also uses his communication and TV and radio skills to raise awareness on health issues in his outreach role at the medical sciences faculty at the university. Besides his interest in teaching and research, he also plays a key role advising the Student-VOSH (SVOSH) chapter at the university so students engage in the provision of free eye health services to communities in need following best practise and in the process, improve their clinical skills and confidence.

As part of SVOSH, Jairo also motivates students to participate in activities that enhance their networking and collaboration with other optometrists members of VOSH/International. In this role, Jairo has already co-ordinated a number of successful clinics with other international VOSH chapters where he was noticed by his trustworthiness, positive attitude and great commitment to his country and people.

Jairo wants optometry to achieve its biggest potential and is eager to increase its scope of practice and currently has a vocal position in the Nicaraguan Optometric Association.

His efforts to seek sustainability have resulted in Jairo becoming the founding President of the non-profit organisation Fundación Cuido Ojos (FCO) Nicaragua that supports eye care delivery through a team of 3 optometrists, 4 assistants and SVOSH volunteers. FCO has served 22,000 patients and screened 16500 students and teachers at 176 primary schools, providing free glasses as needed.

Jairo is a very approachable and humble person. It will be easy to underestimate his talents and role developing optometry in his country. He is a very hard-working professional who always delivers and who is respected for that. Heroes achieve incredible things and in his short life Jairo is opening new ground for other Nicaraguan optometrists to benefit their communities and thrive.

I enjoy interacting most with patients and students. It is hard to describe all the gratifying emotions that optometry brings to my life. I enjoy seeing the twinkle in the eyes of and smile in the patients who for economic or life circumstances are just getting their first pair of glasses. It is very emotional to think that one can get to a community and prevent a child from dropping from school just by giving them glasses. I am truly grateful to God for being an optometrist and being able to combine my great passions: research, teaching and community outreach.