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Tore Godal receives King’s Medal of Merit

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Tore Godal has been awarded the King's Medal of Merit for his lifelong work in global health and vaccination. His initiatives in the field of vaccination have helped to save the lives of millions of people.

Tore Godal
Tore Godal, pictured beside a statue of Edward Jenner giving smallpox vaccine to a child. Jenner is known as the pioneer of modern vaccination . Foto: Gavi/ Isaac Griberg

Tore Godal has been awarded the King's Medal of Merit for his lifelong work in global health and vaccination. His initiatives in the field of vaccination have helped to save the lives of millions of people.


Now 80-years-old and working at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Godal has an extensive national and international career behind him. He was also central in the widespread introduction of mosquito nets, an initiative that has helped to prevent millions of deaths from malaria.

Began career in Ethiopia

Godal began his career as Director of Armauer Hansen's Research Institute in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. In the 1970s, he worked in the World Health Organisation (WHO) before returning to Norway to work at the Radium Hospital. He went on to lead the WHO tropical medicine programme.

In 1999, he became head of the Secretariat for the global vaccine alliance, Gavi. He was a special adviser to Gro Harlem Brundtland at the WHO, and he has also worked in the Office of the Prime Minister and in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Since 2018, he has worked at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

750 million vaccinated children

Among his achievements, his work with the Gavi alliance has saved most lives.

"Through the alliance, 750 million children have been vaccinated so far. WHO and UNICEF ​​estimate that Gavi has helped to save 13 million lives," says Godal.

Godal was also central in the widespread introduction of mosquito nets, following research that showed how impregnated mosquito nets could save the life of every fifth child in Africa.

“Malaria mortality rates have been reduced by more than 50 per cent. Every year, about half a million more children now survive due to mosquito nets,” he says. He led a research project in four African countries to measure the effect of one million people receiving mosquito nets.

Better hygiene

“Both improved hygiene and vaccination have led to better global health. Free medicines for tropical diseases from pharmaceutical companies have also had a great effect,” he says.

Donors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been important. Since 1999, they have donated $750 million to the Gavi vaccination programme.

“Bill said his hand shook a little when he signed that cheque, but five years later he said it was the best investment he had ever made,” recalls Godal.