Professor Kovin Naidoo, CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the State University of New York (SUNY), for his work to expand access to eye care across the world.
Prof. Naidoo was joined at the SUNY School of Optometry 2018 Commencement Ceremony by Dr. Frank Schaeffel, Professor of neurobiology of the eye at the Institute of Ophthalmic Research at the University of Tübingen (Germany), who received an honorary Doctor of Science for advancing understanding of vision.
Commenting on the award, Professor Brian Layland, Chair of Brien Holden Vision Institute, said Prof. Naidoo’s tireless efforts, over several decades. have resulted in significant advances in the development of eye care for people in need.
“Kovin Naidoo has been a champion at all levels – firstly delivering eye care, establishing programs, securing funding, building research capacity and advocating strongly for this cause in Africa; then applying this strategic approach and his boundless energy to global efforts,” he said.
“Most recently, he has been the architect of the Our Children’s Vision campaign, a global collaboration of organisations focused on expanding access to eye health services for more children in more locations, which has so far reached around 20 million children.”
Prof. Naidoo said he was honoured to be recognised by such a prestigious institution. “I gratefully accept this award as not just a tribute to myself but to all the Brien Holden staff for their tireless work to make this world a better place – be it through translational research to create vision solutions or our public health and education efforts to expand access to eye care to everyone, everywhere,” he said.
In a statement, SUNY said the achievements of Professor Naidoo and Dr. Schaeffel “are truly remarkable and worthy of this recognition”.
Professor Naidoo is an academic, former anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner, optometrist and an internationally celebrated public health leader.
He previously served as the head of optometry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, with which SUNY Optometry has forged a partnership and expanded SUNY’s global presence.
Professor Naidoo has developed a comprehensive and sustainable service delivery model, which shifts the primary responsibility for refractive services and blindness prevention from private sector professionals to community eye and health care workers, making eye care affordable and accessible to underserved patients.
He holds degrees from the University of New South Wales (PhD), Pennsylvania College of Optometry (OD), Temple University (MPH), and the former University of Durban Westville, now the University of KwaZulu-Natal (BS, BO).