Professor Kovin Naidoo receives the award at the Saudi Ophthalmology 2017 conference.
Professor Kovin Naidoo, the Chief Executive Officer of Brien Holden Vision Institute and Professor of Optometry at UKZN has received an award from the Saudi Ophthalmology Society, for his continuing work in preventative ophthalmology, particularly in the areas of avoidable childhood blindness and cataract.
Naidoo is founder and Chair of African Vision, which brings together various stakeholders to address the backlog of cataract services in South Africa, specifically in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. He is also the initiator and Campaign Director for Our Children’s Vision, a global campaign working to upscale, accelerate and expand access to eye health services to more children, in more locations. By the end of 2016, the campaign had, through its coalition of partners, reached 10 million children – an amazing milestone and great achievement for global child eye health.
Our Children’s Vision operates as a global community of dedicated practitioners, governments, civil society, not-for-profit organisations and donors who are driven to mobilise resources, networks and know-how to impact the lives of millions of children.
‘The consequences of a child not being able to see clearly cannot be underestimated,’ explained Naidoo. ‘These children are often misunderstood as being unintelligent, un-athletic, and introverted. When in reality they are simply unable to see well enough to get involved and enjoy the things kids love to do.’
Naidoo is a former anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner, optometrist and an internationally celebrated public health leader. He has dedicated his professional life to delivering eye care to people in need through research, public health and entrepreneurship.
He has served as the Head of Optometry at UKZN and as the co-founder and CEO of the African Vision Research Institute. Naidoo was a co-founder of Clear Vision Optical franchise and has served on numerous boards throughout his career including most recently the Vision Impact Institute.
He has served in many positions including that of Africa Chair of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, trustee of VISION 2020: Right to Sight, a member of the World Council of Optometry Governing Board and exec, and a member of the World Health Organization Refractive Error Working Group. He is founder and Chair of African Vision which is establishing cataract surgical services in the public sector. He also chairs the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Services Board of Trustees.
Naidoo is a Fulbright Scholar and was elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2006 for his social entrepreneurial efforts in addressing the needs of those less privileged. He was African Optometrist of the Year in 2002 and named International Optometrist in 2007. He was jointly awarded, with Professor Brien Holden, the Schwab Social Entrepreneur Award for Africa 2010, at the regional World Economic Forum in Tanzania. This was in recognition of his ability to merge his business acumen with social causes.