Presidential Medal of Honor 2022 Awardee: Professor Kovin Naidoo
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Presidential Medal of Honor 2022 Awardee: Professor Kovin Naidoo

Kovin Naidoo, BSc, BOptom, MPH, OD ‘95, PhD, DHL (Hon), Global Head: Advocacy and Partnerships, OneSight EssilorLuxxotica Foundation, has been chosen for two distinguished Salus University awards — the Presidential Medal of Honor and the Looking Out for Kids Lighthouse Award.

Kovin Naidoo headshot1A Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University alumni, Dr. Naidoo is a former Africa Chairperson of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), the first optometrist to hold such a position in IAPB globally. He is also the founder of the Children’s Vision Campaign that aimed to reach 50 million children by 2020 and brought together 100 organizations and professional associations. Professor Naidoo is the co-founder of the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition and the Global Ophthalmic Institute. He led philanthropic efforts in Africa and Latin America to create partnerships that provide free eye care to the poor.

Salus University dean of International and Continuing Education, Melissa Vitek, OD ‘95, FAAO, graduated from PCO with Dr. Naidoo. She stated, “Kovin distinguished himself as a thought leader in global education and public health while enrolled as a student. It is no surprise that his entire career has been devoted to helping patients in need around the world.”

“It is an honor to be recognized by PCO/Salus — an institution that helped shape my career by the support and opportunities afforded to me as a young African on scholarship many years ago,” said Dr. Naidoo. “Such awards are not an expression of individual achievement only but a celebration of the collective efforts of countless colleagues who have walked with me on the path to eliminate the world of poor vision due to uncorrected refractive error.”

He reflected back with gratitude to professor Brien Holden and for the support and encouragement of his colleagues at the OneSight EssilorLuxottica foundation.

An honorary professor of optometry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) South Africa, visiting professorial fellow at the University of New South Wales, Australia, Dr. Naidoo also served as an adjunct faculty member at Salus University.

His accolades are many. In 2002, he was named African Optometrist of the Year and International Optometrist of the Year in 2007. The American Academy of Optometry awarded him with 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. In 2010, he also received the Jeffrey and Joyce Meyer Award for his contribution to public health. In 2016, he received the Henry B. Peters Memorial Award in Public Health and Environmental Vision from the American Academy of Optometry.

Dr. Naidoo a Fulbright Scholar, was elected as an Ashoka Fellow and a Schwab Fellow. He was jointly awarded with 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.

In 2017, he also received the distinguished Prevention of Blindness (POB) Shield Lecture award from the Saudi Ophthalmology Society and in 2018, he received the Carel C. Koch award. 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 Phillipines honored him with the Inaugural Claro M Cinco APOC Leadership and Advocacy Award.