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The Balmis Expedition : first model of a global fight against pandemics

The Balmis Expedition : first model of a global fight against pandemics
The Balmis Expedition : first model of a global fight against pandemics

Susana María Ramírez Martín (coordinacion)

Affiliation: Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Facultad de Ciencias de la Documentación. (Madrid, España).

Biography: Susana María Ramírez Martín. Madrileña de nacimiento y americanista de vocación. Doctora en Historia de América (1999) y doctora en Historia de la Medicina (2016). Profesora titular en la Facultad de Ciencias de la Documentación de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. En 2001 recibe el premio Jorge Juan de Historia de la Ciencia por su tesis doctoral titulada "La Real Expedición Filantrópica de la Vacuna en la Real Audiencia de Quito". Desde entonces tiene más de cinco libros dedicados a la Expedición de Balmis.

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Coordination: Susana María Ramírez Martín

About the authors 

Publication year: 2023

Language: English

Subjects: History and Historiography


On November 30, 1803, the corvette María Pita sailed from the port of A Coruña.
On board were twenty-two orphaned children whose mission was to carry the newly discovered smallpox vaccine in their own bodies to the Spanish overseas territories. Leading this global health vaccination adventure, known as the Balmis Expedition or the Royal Philanthropic Vaccine Expedition, was Dr. Francisco Xavier Balmis. He was accompanied by José Salvany and Isabel Zendal, among others.
At the request of the Council of the Indies, Charles IV authorized and financed the expedition, whose status as the greatest humanitarian feat in history is due not only to the courage of those children who were called upon to save the lives of more than half a million people, but also to the courage of its director, Francisco Xavier Balmis, a model of health care behavior.
The Balmis Expedition was the first mass vaccination program in history and there is no other humanitarian mission of comparable magnitude. The expedition is an inspiring example of what science and an adventurous spirit can do for humanity. The discoverer of the smallpox vaccine, Edward Jenner, wrote about the expedition: “I cannot imagine in the annals of history a nobler and more extensive example of philanthropy than this.”
Today we can affirm that the model of the fight against COVID-19 has its germ in this pioneering medical epic.

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Bibliographic information

Physical Description : 355 p. : 31 cm

ISBN: 978-84-00-11121-2

eISBN: 978-84-00-11122-9

Publication: Madrid : Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas : GeoPlaneta : Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, 2023

Reference CSIC: 13890

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This book was added to our online catalog on Thursday 27 April, 2023.