Professor Kovin Naidoo has stated that global organisations engaged in providing spectacles to Africans and the rest of the developing world need to give serious consideration to the programs they support.
In an address at the Vatican, he said all people have a right to dignity and quality care and, as such, programs that force inappropriate recycled spectacles and other such products on Africans should not be supported.
The former anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner and internationally celebrated public health leader and optometrist, attended the Vatican to speak at a special session on blindness prevention and had an audience with the Pope.
His Excellency Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for health care workers and President of the ‘Good Samaritan Foundation’ (The Holy See), invited Professor Naidoo to attend ‘The Non-Sighted Person: Master, I See Again (MK 10:51),’ conference, held from 4-5 May. Also in attendance were Professor Gullapalli (Nag) Rao, Chair of ICEE and Dr. Serge Resnikoff, Senior Consultant for the Brien Holden Vision Institute.
The conference was a boost for blindness prevention efforts as it clearly outlined the responsibility of the religious sector in this extremely important struggle
The conference took place within the framework of the ‘Good Samaritan’ Foundation, which was instituted by Blessed John Paul II with the aim of providing economic support to those most in need, and in particular, people afflicted by HIV/AIDS, who ask for a gesture of support from the Church.
“I feel truly honoured to be invited to attend a conference at the Vatican. I am also humbled to be invited by His Excellency Zygmunt Zimowski, for what was an enlightening conference – bringing science and religion together, discussing the main causes of avoidable blindness, legislative requirements and models of prevention against avoidable blindness,” said Prof. Naidoo.
“The conference was a boost for blindness prevention efforts as it clearly outlined the responsibility of the religious sector in this extremely important struggle to ensure that no human being is deprived of social, economic or educational opportunities because society fails them in preventing avoidable blindness or fails to guarantee them the appropriate rights when they become blind from unavoidable causes.”
The two-day conference provided a forum that reflected on pastoral care of the blind, and was an opportunity for speakers of theological-pastoral, medical-scientific, educational and social character to outline practical approaches to the need for support and treatment of non-sighted people.
It included contributions from industry experts on the scientific, social, political, economic and legislative requirements of the topic under consideration.
Among his many responsibilities, Professor Naidoo is the Africa Chair of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), Global Programmes Director of the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE) and Associate Professor at University of KwaZulu-Natal.