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. He's covered mass circumcision drives in Kenya, abortion in El Salvador, poisonous gold mines in Nigeria, drug-resistant malaria in Myanmar and tuberculosis in Tajikistan. He was part of a team of reporters at NPR that won a Peabody Award in 2015 for their extensive coverage of the West Africa Ebola outbreak. His current beat also examines development issues including why Niger has the highest birth rate in the world, can private schools serve some of the poorest kids on the planet and the links between obesity and economic growth.

Prior to becoming the Global Health and Development Correspondent in 2012, Beaubien spent four years based in Mexico City covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. In that role, Beaubien filed stories on politics in Cuba, the 2010 Haitian earthquake, 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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Goats and Soda
2:58 am
Fri June 26, 2015

Polio Is Active In Only 3 Countries. Soon It Could Be Down To 2

At the health clinic in Minjibir, Nigeria, a child is immunized for polio.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 5:35 am

Nigeria is on the verge of being polio-free. And that would mean that for the first time ever there's no ongoing polio transmission on the African continent.

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Goats and Soda
3:44 am
Sat June 20, 2015

North Korea Announces Cure For MERS (As If)

To screen for MERS, an official at South Korea's customs gate checks the body heat of a worker arriving from North Korea.
JUNG YEON-JE AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 20, 2015 5:55 am

As South Koreans continue to struggle with the worst outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, ever recorded outside the Middle East, their comrades to the north say, "We've got a cure for that!"

The World Health Organization says there's no known cure or vaccine for MERS, but state-run media in Pyongyang reports a wonder drug called Kumdang-2 will do the trick. The report makes no mention of whether Pyongyang is going to offer this miracle compound to its neighbor to the south. Or as the news agency puts it: "the Korean puppet authorities" in Seoul.

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Goats and Soda
12:57 pm
Fri June 19, 2015

Why Ebola Won't Go Away In West Africa

A police officer guards the home of a family under a 21-day Ebola quarantine in Freetown, Sierra Leone, back in March.
Michael Duff AP

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 11:19 pm

Ebola has dug in its heels.

Despite dramatic drops in the overall numbers of reported cases, Sierra Leone and Guinea are still struggling to stop the deadly disease.

Case tallies in both countries have dipped towards zero in the past few months, only to bounce back up. Sierra Leone reported 14 new cases this week and Guinea counted 10.

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Goats and Soda
3:13 pm
Sun June 14, 2015

Why MERS Is Likely To Crop Up Outside The Middle East Again

A dangerous nuzzle? A man in western Abu Dhabi hugs a camel brought in from Saudi Arabia for beauty contests. Middle East respiratory syndrome circulates in camels across the Arabian Peninsula.
Dave Yoder National Geographic

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 12:09 pm

Blame it on the camels.

When scientists first detected Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012, the big question was: Where is this virus coming from?

For several years, scientists hunted the deadly virus across the Arabian Peninsula, and eventually they found at least one source — dromedary camels.

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Goats and Soda
11:14 am
Fri June 5, 2015

Behind The Story: What Made NPR Look Into Red Cross Efforts In Haiti?

After the quake of 2010, a man stands on a rooftop yelling for any sign of his missing relatives in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 7:01 pm

Where did the money go? An NPR and ProPublica investigation has raised troubling questions about what happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by the American Red Cross for earthquake relief in Haiti.

Goats and Soda posed a few questions to NPR correspondent Laura Sullivan about her work on this investigation.

What made you decide to look into the American Red Cross's earthquake recovery spending in Haiti?

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Goats and Soda
2:57 pm
Wed June 3, 2015

MERS In South Korea Is Bad News But It's Not Yet Time To Panic

A student wearing a face mask stands in a public square in Seoul on June 3. More than 200 primary schools shut down as South Korea has struggled to contain an outbreak of the MERS virus.
ED JONES AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 6:20 pm

Should the world be in a panic about MERS?

That's the global health question of the hour. South Korea is trying to get control of an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome. Officials have now confirmed 30 cases of the disease and two deaths. One of the patients traveled to China and remains hospitalized there. More than 1,000 people are now under quarantine in Hong Kong, China and South Korea as a result of the outbreak.

There's fear that MERS could be the next SARS, the respiratory virus that swept through the region in 2003, claiming hundreds of lives.

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Goats and Soda
1:46 am
Fri May 29, 2015

New Jersey Lassa Fever Death Reveals Holes In Ebola Monitoring System

The man who died of Lassa fever flew from West Africa to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 1:06 pm

A man died of a hemorrhagic fever in New Jersey this week. This by itself is fairly unusual in the Garden State. Making the case even more odd was that the man was being monitored for Ebola by New Jersey health officials, and the case should have been caught earlier.

The events expose a hole in a public health system meant to track potential Ebola cases.

The 55-year-old New Jersey resident worked in the mining industry and traveled frequently to West Africa. Two weeks ago he landed at JFK International Airport after a flight from Liberia.

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Goats and Soda
1:32 am
Wed May 27, 2015

As Antibiotic Resistance Spreads, WHO Plans Strategy To Fight It

Patients receive treatment at the Chest Disease Hospital in Srinagar, India. The country has one of the highest rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the world, in part because antibiotics for the disease are poorly regulated by the government.
Dar Yasin AP

Originally published on Sun May 31, 2015 7:44 pm

The world is losing some of the most powerful tools in modern medicine. Antibiotics are becoming less and less effective at fighting infections. The problem has gotten so bad that some doctors are starting to ponder a "post-antibiotic world."

Common infections that have been easily treatable for decades could become deadly if the current growth of antimicrobial resistance continues.

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Goats and Soda
1:42 am
Thu May 21, 2015

WHO Calls For $100 Million Emergency Fund, Doctor 'SWAT Team'

The Ebola outbreak "overwhelmed" the World Health Organization and made it clear the agency must change, WHO's director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, said Monday in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 6:00 pm

Nearly 3,000 delegates from around the world are gathering this week in one of the most expensive cities in Europe to debate the fate of the World Health Organization.

There's one main question on the table: Will the WHO be given the power and money it needs to be the world's leading health agency, or will it plod forward in its current state — as a weak, bureaucratic agency of the U.N. known more for providing advice than taking action.

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Goats and Soda
1:25 am
Wed May 20, 2015

She's Got One Of The Toughest Diseases To Cure. And She's Hopeful

Jenny Tenorio Gallegos, 35, in Lima, Peru, is being treated for drug-resistant TB. The treatment lasts two years and may rob her of her hearing.
Jason Beaubien/NPR

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 12:44 pm

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is not only airborne and lethal; it's one of the most difficult diseases in the world to cure.

In Peru, 35-year-old Jenny Tenorio Gallegos wheezes even when she's sitting still. That's because of the damage tuberculosis has done to her lungs. The antibiotics she's taking to treat extensively drug-resistant TB nauseate her, give her headaches, leave her exhausted and are destroying her hearing.

"At times I don't hear well," she says. "You have to speak loud for me to be able to understand."

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