Professor Kovin Naidoo is a Global Head of Advocacy and Partnerships at the OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation and the former CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute. He is an academic, former anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner, optometrist and an internationally celebrated public health leader. His professional life has been dedicated to delivering eye care to people in need.
Professor Naidoo is Honorary Professor of Optometry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), and a Visiting Professorial Fellow at UNSW Sydney, Australia. He has published extensively in epidemiology and public health. More recently he served on the 2019 WHO World Report on Vision editorial committee. Recognizing the need to develop research capacity in Africa, Professor Naidoo initiated the formation of the African Vision Research Institute (AVRI). Professor Naidoo is a former member of the World Council of Optometry Executive Committee, Founder and Chair of African Vision and former Chair of the Red Cross Air Mercy Services Board of Trustees among his many esteemed affiliations. He is the founder of the Children's Vision Campaign that aimed to reach 50 million children by 2020 and brought together more than 100 organisations and professional associations.
Professor Naidoo is a Fulbright Scholar, was elected as an Ashoka Fellow and a Schwab Fellow. He was jointly awarded with the late Professor Brien Holden, the Schwab Social Entrepreneur Award for Africa 2010 at the regional World Economic Forum in Tanzania in recognition of their ability to merge business acumen with social causes. The American Academy of Optometry awarded him the Essilor Award for outstanding contributions to Optometry in 2010, and the British College of Optometrists an honorary fellowship in 2009 for his contribution to the development of optometry in Africa and the developing world. He was African Optometrist of the Year in 2002, then International Optometrist of the Year in 2007. In 2016 he received the Henry B. Peters Memorial Award in Public Health and Environmental Vision from American Academy of Optometry and in 2017, received the distinguished Prevention of Blindness (POB) Shield Lecture award from the Saudi Ophthalmology Society. Most recently, Professor Naidoo has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry. In 2019 the Asia Pacific Council of Optometry and Optometry Association of Philippines honoured him with the Inaugural Claro M Cinco APOC Leadership Advocacy Award. Professor Naidoo has also been declared the 2022 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Honour as well as the Humanitarian Award-the Lighthouse Award at Salus University.