Jason Beaubien

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Global Health and Development Correspondent on the Science Desk.

In this role, he reports on a range of health issues across the world including the mobilization of massive circumcision drives in Kenya; how Botswana, with one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, has managed to provide free, life-saving drugs to almost all who need them; and why Brazil's once model HIV/AIDS program is seen in decline.

Prior to moving into this assignment in 2012, Beaubien spent four years a NPR foreign correspondent covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. From his base in Mexico City, Beaubien filed stories on politics in Cuba, hurricanes in Haiti, the FMLN victory in El Salvador, the world's richest man and Mexico's brutal drug war.

For his first multi-part series as the Mexico City correspondent, Beaubien drove the length of the U.S./Mexico border making a point to touch his toes in both oceans. The stories chronicled the economic, social and political changes along the violent frontier.

In 2002, Beaubien joined NPR after volunteering to cover a coup attempt in the Ivory Coast. Over the next four years, Beaubien worked as a foreign correspondent in sub-Saharan Africa, visiting 27 countries on the continent. His reporting ranged from poverty on the world's poorest continent, the HIV in the epicenter of the epidemic, and the all-night a cappella contests in South Africa, to Afro-pop stars in Nigeria and a trial of white mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea.

During this time, he covered the famines and wars of Africa, as well as the inspiring preachers and Nobel laureates. Beaubien was one of the first journalists to report on the huge exodus of people out of Sudan's Darfur region into Chad, as villagers fled some of the initial attacks by the Janjawid. He reported extensively on the steady deterioration of Zimbabwe and still has a collection of worthless Zimbabwean currency.

In 2006, Beaubien was awarded a Knight-Wallace fellowship at the University of Michigan to study the relationship between the developed and the developing world.

Beaubien grew up in Maine, started his radio career as an intern at NPR Member Station KQED in San Francisco and worked at WBUR in Boston before joining NPR.

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3:02pm

Mon May 5, 2014
Global Health

To Fight Polio Outbreaks, WHO Lays Down New Rules

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 8:31 am

The World Health Organization is warning that recent outbreaks of polio in the Middle East, Africa and Asia mark a setback to the decades-long effort to eradicate the disease. In response, the WHO has declared a world health emergency. It's asking Syria, Pakistan and Cameroon — current polio hot spots — to require all travelers leaving those countries to show proof of vaccination.

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2:30am

Wed April 30, 2014
Shots - Health News

Mysterious Kidney Disease Slays Farmworkers In Central America

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 6:32 am

Loved ones express their grief at the burial of Ramon Romero Ramirez in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, January 2013. The 36-year-old died of chronic kidney disease after working in the sugar cane fields for 12 years. Ramirez is part of a steady procession of deaths among cane workers.
Ed Kashi VII

Manuel Antonio Tejarino used to be a lean, fit field hand. During the sugar cane harvest, he'd swing a machete for hours, hacking at the thick, towering stalks.

Now Tejarino is slumped in a faded, cloth deck chair outside his sister's house on the outskirts of Chichigalpa, Nicaragua.

Tejarino's kidneys are failing. He's grown gaunt. His arms droop by his side. In the tropical midday heat, he alternates between wiping sweat off his brow and pulling a sweatshirt up over his bare chest.

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3:04pm

Fri April 25, 2014
Global Health

Deadly Disease Out Of Middle East Draws Concerns Of Pandemic

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 3:21 pm

Cases of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, are on the rise in Saudi Arabia. That's prompting concern among public health officials that the MERS virus has become more virulent.

5:50pm

Thu April 24, 2014
Shots - Health News

Why The U.S. Is Worried About A Deadly Middle Eastern Virus

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 6:52 am

Fearful of catching the MERS virus, workers wear masks during a soccer match on April 22 at King Fahad stadium in Riyadh.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

UPDATE at 4:17 p.m. Friday: Saudi Arabia has confirmed 313 cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, including 92 deaths, the Ministry of Health said Friday. Of note, one of the 14 new patients caught the virus while working as a hospital receptionist.

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6:38pm

Mon April 21, 2014
Shots - Health News

Sharp Rise In MERS Cases May Mean The Virus Is Evolving

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 6:46 am

An Egyptian Muslim prays during a ritual in Mina, Saudi Arabia, October 2013. Some people wore masks during the hajj pilgrimage last year to protect against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
Amr Nabil AP

There's growing concern that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome may have entered a new phase in the way it's spreading in Saudi Arabia.

The country has reported a sharp uptick in MERS cases over the past week. Since the deadly respiratory virus was first detected in September 2012, a total of 244 cases have been found in Saudi Arabia. About 50 of those cases were reported in the past six days.

Neighboring United Arab Emirates has also reported a rise in cases in the past week.

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7:12am

Sat April 19, 2014
Africa

Polio Threatens To Spread Through Central Africa

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 10:46 am

Transcript

WADE GOODWYN, HOST:

In Central Africa, there are new fears that polio is on the move. Polio cases in Cameroon have spread to the tiny country of Equatorial Guinea, and there's concern it could spread even further in the region. Significant progress against polio has been made in much of the world this year. But global efforts to eradicate the virus could face a setback if polio gets a foothold in central Africa. Here's NPR's Jason Beaubien.

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2:29am

Thu April 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

Polio Hits Equatorial Guinea, Threatens Central Africa

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 6:41 am

A child receives a polio vaccine Sunday in Kano, Nigeria. The country is the primary source of the virus in Africa but appears to be making progress against the disease; the current outbreak in Cameroon that has spread to Equatorial Guinea came by way of Chad, not Nigeria.
Sunday Alamba AP

Health officials are worried.

After being free of polio for nearly 15 years, Equatorial Guinea has reported two cases of the disease.

The children paralyzed are in two distant parts of the country. So the virus may have spread widely across the small nation.

The outbreak is dangerous, in part, because Equatorial Guinea has the worst polio vaccination rate in the world: 39 percent. Even Somalia, teetering on the brink of anarchy, vaccinates 47 percent of its children.

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11:05am

Tue April 8, 2014
Shots - Health News

Global Aid For Health Hits Record High As Funding Sources Shift

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 2:58 pm

A pregnant Somali woman gets a tetanus shot at a clinic in Mogadishu in 2013. The vaccination initiative was launched by the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Carl de Souza AFP/Getty Images

International development aid has hit an all-time high, despite some nations dramatically slashing their foreign assistance budgets. As patterns of international assistance shift, an increasing amount of money is being invested in improving health in the developing world.

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3:14pm

Wed March 19, 2014
Shots - Health News

To Save Her Husband's Life, A Woman Fights For Access To TB Drugs

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 8:13 pm

Oxana and Pavel Rucsineanu fell in love while living at a tuberculosis ward in Balti, Moldova.
Jason Beaubien NPR

One year ago Pavel Rucsineanu was running out of options.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis was ravaging his lungs. And the disease had evolved into an incurable form, doctors said.

It's like an "infectious cancer," Dr. Tetru Alexandriuc said at the time. "We have no other medicines" to treat Pavel, the doctor added. Although he wouldn't say it, the doctor expected TB would kill Pavel.

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4:19pm

Thu February 13, 2014
Shots - Health News

Stopping Microbes Not Missiles: U.S. Plans For Next Global Threat

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 6:58 pm

Hannah Rood, 3, receives an H1N1 vaccine at a clinic in San Pablo, California, during the 2009 swine flu epidemic.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Spot the next plague before it arrives. Predict the next swine flu outbreak before it makes headlines. Even detect a biological weapon before it's launched.

These are the goals of an ambitious initiative, launched Thursday, to build a worldwide surveillance system for infectious diseases.

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6:44pm

Tue February 4, 2014
Shots - Health News

Cancer Cases Rising At An Alarming Rate Worldwide

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 7:20 am

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men in the West, while lung and liver cancers are the top problems in Asia.
Courtesy of the World Health Organization

As countries modernize around the world, they're increasingly being hit with one of the curses of wealth: cancer.

There are about 14 million new cancer cases globally each year, the World Health Organization reported Monday. And the trend is only getting worse.

The global burden of cancer will grow by 70 percent over the next two decades, the WHO predicts, with an estimated 22 million new cases and 13 million deaths each year by 2032.

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11:29am

Thu January 30, 2014
Shots - Health News

Access To Toilets And Books Improves Life For Kids Across The Globe

Palestinian girls read the Koran at a camp in Gaza City, June 2012. In poor countries, boys are 20 percent more likely than girls to enroll in school, UNICEF says.
Mahmud Hams AFP/Getty Images

The world is in the midst of a porcelain revolution.

Nearly 2 billion people have gained access to clean toilets, or at least a decent outhouse, since 1990, the nonprofit UNICEF reports Thursday.

That rise in sanitation has led to big health improvements, the agency says, because contaminated drinking water is still a major cause of disease and death for children.

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7:15am

Fri January 3, 2014
Shots - Health News

Overweight People In Developing World Outnumber Those In Rich Countries

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 7:06 am

Government workers exercise at their office in Mexico City, August 2013. To counter the obesity epidemic, the city requires all government employees to do at least 20 minutes of exercise each day.
Tomas Bravo Reuters /Landov

People are getting fatter around the world. And the problem is growing most rapidly in developing countries, researchers reported Friday.

"Over the last 30 years, the number of people who are overweight and obese in the developing world has tripled," says Steve Wiggins, of the Overseas Development Institute in London.

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2:24am

Fri January 3, 2014
Shots - Health News

Why Ending Malaria May Be More About Backhoes Than Bed Nets

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 7:16 am

Yonta, 6, rests with her brother Leakhena, 4 months, under a mosquito bed net in the Pailin province of Cambodia, where deaths from malaria have decreased sharply in the past two decades.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

Wiping out malaria is a top goal for many leaders in global health.

Fewer people are dying now from the mosquito-borne disease than at any other time in history. "And there's a very, very strong belief now that malaria can be eliminated," says Joy Phumaphi, who chairs the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.

But when you look at the overall numbers on malaria, eradication almost seems like a pipe dream.

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2:52pm

Wed January 1, 2014
Shots - Health News

Simple, Cheap Health Remedies Cut Child Mortality In Ethiopia

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 11:48 am

Almaz Acha sits with her baby Alentse at her home in the rural community of Sadoye, in southern Ethiopia. Families in rural communities, like this one, have benefited from Ethiopia's health extension program.
Julien Behal PA Photos /Landov

Poor countries are starting to realize something that richer ones sometimes forget: Basic, inexpensive measures can have dramatic impacts on the health of a country. And they can save thousands of lives.

Take, for instance, the situation in Ethiopia.

The country used to have one of the highest rates of child mortality in the world.

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