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Professor Kovin Naidoo is a former anti-apartheid activist and was a political prisoner, an optometrist, an internationally celebrated public health leader and world renowned academic involved in eye health research. He is currently the Senior Vice President Social Impact: Africa & Latin America and Advocacy at ESSILOR. In this position, he is involved in efforts of reaching out to the underserved communities living with disability among them uncorrected refractive errors.
He served initially as the IAPB Co Chair for Sub Saharan Africa. Later on he was the IAPB Chair for Sub Saharan Africa in an eight-year term culminating in the highly successful IAPB Congress held in Durban, South Africa in 2016.
As an academic and researcher, he initiated formation and was the CEO at the African Vision Research Institute (AVRI), an Associate Professor of Optometry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Visiting Professorial Fellow at UNSW Sydney, Australia and Adjunct Faculty at Salus University in Philadelphia. During this time, he has published extensively in epidemiology and public health articles. He is also a collaborator in the Global Burden of Disease Studies and African PI for the vision loss expert group (VLEG).
As an eye health leader and administrator, he is the former CEO of the Brien Holden Vision institute. He is the Founder and former Global Director of Our Children’s Vision Campaign, was chair of the International Myopia Institute, and is a member of the World Council of Optometry Executive committee; Founder and Chair of African Vision and the former Chair of the Red Cross Air Mercy Services Board of Trustees.
He is a Fulbright Scholar, an Ashoka Fellow and a Schwab Fellow. Among his many awards are: The American Academy of Optometry Essilor Award for outstanding contributions to Optometry and the British College of Optometrists honorary fellowship in 2009, International Optometrist of the Year in 2007, an honorary doctorate from State University of New York (SUNY).