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Ana Justina Ferreira Néri (1814-80)

Ana NeriThe person considered to have been the first nurse in Brazil was born Ana Justina Ferreira. She married a naval officer and was the mother of three sons, but widowed young. Two of the sons became doctors, one a cadet. Paraguay invaded Brazil in 1864 and early in 1865 Brazil counter attacked. All three Néri sons were called to serve (one died), also several other men in the family. Ana Néri volunteered to go to the war zone to look after injured soldiers. She worked alongside nuns--the Daughters of Charity--the same order Nightingale served with in Paris in 1853. Néri took care of more than 6000 soldiers in the course of the war.

She also used her wealth to found a nursing house in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay. Back in Brazil she was awarded a pension, which she used to look after four Paraguayan orphans she had brought back with her.

Néri's nursing was all voluntary, and untrained. In 1926 the first Brazilian nurse training school, in São Paulo, was named after her. Her name in 2009 was added to the Pantheon of the Fatherland and Freedom in Brazil.

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