The Balmis expedition returns to the University

It’s time to celebrate! Thanks to the support of our company, on 28 May the University of Alicante presented the ‘Balmis Chair in Vaccinology’. We are honoured to take a step further in our collaboration with educational institutions as prestigious as this university and see that the commitment, made together in September 2014 with all the university’s teaching staff, represented by Rector Manuel Palomar, is beginning to materialise in such interesting and essential projects.

Of course, it is also a source of pride that professionals with such outstanding personal and professional qualities like Dr. José Vicente Tuells, Head of Research and Preventive Medicine at the Departments of Health of Vinalopó and Torrevieja and director of this Chair, belong to our organisation, in this case at the Vinalopó and Torrevieja hospitals.

It is crucial for Ribera Salud to be at the forefront of innovative projects, to train today’s and tomorrow’s professionals in order to give our citizens the best public service now and in the future. Therefore, collaborating with this initiative is an honour that encourages us to excel. I cannot pass up this opportunity to mention that this University Chair in Vaccinology is a ground-breaking initiative, as there are few examples of similar chairs in Spain and abroad. There is a Scientific Chair in Evidence Based Vaccinology (EBV) at the University of Antwerp, and the Maurice R. Hilleman Chair in Vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania. Therefore, this is a project we wanted to support, because we feel we have a moral obligation to defend and engage in public health.

It is true that we live in a time when some –fortunately only a few– question the value of vaccines. We do not. We believe that billions of people around the world owe much to vaccines. For this reason, the University of Alicante and Ribera Salud wanted to personalise this Chair and give it a name: Francisco Javier de Balmis. Born in Alicante, in the early nineteenth century Balmis headed the first health-care expedition in human history. A noble adventure that saved thousands of children in Latin America from dying in the smallpox epidemic.

Following his example, from Alicante we once again open ourselves to the world, advancing research to improve the quality of life of our communities. Long live progress!

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