A 1 hour and 30 minute video in which, with the participation of different specialists and the contribution of period documents, the figure of Isabel Zendal Gómez is discussed in the context of the Royal Philanthropic Smallpox Vaccine Expedition. Commonly known as the Balmis Expedition, it left the port of A Coruña on 30 November 1803. With the aim of eradicating the disease in the Empire and the overseas colonies, the Spanish monarchy, with Charles IV as king, sponsored this ambitious and pioneering scientific and medical project. At its head was Dr Francisco Javier Balmis y Berenguer. Twenty-two foundlings and orphans travelled with the medical team, led by Isabel Zendal, the rector of the Casa de Expósitos in A Coruña. The children, aged between 3 and 9 years, carried the vaccine in their bodies and it was kept in good condition until their arrival in America. The method consisted of injecting the vaccine into one child and, when it matured, the pulp was extracted and inoculated into another; in this way, a chain was established that ensured the vaccine fluid. After the American phase, the expedition continued to the Philippines, also with 26 children. The World Health Organisation recognised Zendal as the first nurse in history on an international mission. Her professional activity in the philanthropic expedition lasted for the ten years it took to bring the smallpox vaccine to the Spanish overseas territories.
Project: 11. Science and culture as representation in Europe., 4. Family, daily life and social inequality in Europe., 8. Women and the change for gender equality in Europe.
Chronology: XVIII, XIX
Scope: Baccalaureate, University
Resource type: Video
Source: Instituto Cervantes
Owner: Francisco García González (Modernalia)
Copyright: © Instituto Cervantes
Abstract: Video of the discussion on Isabel Zendal and the Balmis Smallpox Vaccine Expedition of 1803-1806