At the end of the nineteenth century, Lisbon aimed at becoming “the gate of Europe.” For this purpose, it planned to improve the port to facilitate the traffic of goods and people. But these ambitions were quickly frustrated by the obligation, according to Portuguese’s physicians and public health authorities, to maintain a strong health control for every ship to fight against epidemics coming from the sea. In 1901, the numerous negotiations drove to a new system of maritime health control. Instead of a systematic quarantine in the lazaretto, the new Maritime Health Service was relocated in the port zone, in the center of Lisbon, and favored new solutions according to modern medicine, involving disinfection and individual follow-up. By doing so, this new system saw the epidemic control as an urban question. It negotiated territory on port with the other administrations, connected with the other health institutions in the city and modified the medical geography of Lisbon. In order to control maritime flows, this local institution also increased its international connections. The Maritime Health Service in Lisbon held everyday collaborations with other ports, framed by an international legislation under construction.
This chapter analyses this new system as the solution found to reconcile commercial interests and preservation against epidemics in Lisbon. To fully understand the implementation of a porous sanitary border and how the health control was integrated into the urban matrix, it considers its different geographical scales, from local to international.