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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Shots - Health News
12:01 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Global Aid For Health Hits Record High As Funding Sources Shift

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

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 3:58 pm

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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Shots - Health News
4:31 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:13 pm

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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Shots - Health News
6:12 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 7:58 pm

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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Shots - Health News
7:20 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Cancer Cases Rising At An Alarming Rate Worldwide

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

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 8:20 am

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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Shots - Health News
12:29 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

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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Shots - Health News
8:15 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Overweight People In Developing World Outnumber Those In Rich Countries

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

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 8:06 am

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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Shots - Health News
3:24 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Why Ending Malaria May Be More About Backhoes Than Bed Nets

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

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 8:16 am

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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Shots - Health News
4:02 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

Simple, Cheap Health Remedies Cut Child Mortality In Ethiopia

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

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 12:48 pm

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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Parallels
5:00 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Rushing Toward Chaos: Covering The Aftermath Of Typhoon Haiyan

A boy stands in the ruins of the leveled a neighborhood in Tacloban. Food and water supplies were almost nonexsistent in the days immediately after the storm.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 7:00 pm

It felt like a dream.

The Marines kept flying over us all night long. Their hulking C-130 cargo planes rattled the tarp we'd jerry-rigged above our heads. NPR photographer David Gilkey and I were lying in sleeping bags next to the runway of the destroyed Tacloban airport. We'd arrived a few hours earlier in the back of one of those military aircraft. Now we were just waiting for daybreak.

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Global Health
8:23 am
Sun December 15, 2013

They Shot For Zero, But Couldn't Squash Polio In 2013

A polio worker vaccinates a child in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, in October.
Arshad Arbab EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 2:43 pm

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. Numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we're living in, right now. Over the next two weeks, you'll hear the stories behind numbers, ranging from zero to 1 trillion.

The lowest number of polio cases ever recorded in the world during one year was 223. And 2013 was on track for an even lower number.

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Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
5:17 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, one of the world's most respected statesmen, died Thursday at 95.
Denis Farrell AP

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 11:57 am

Nelson Mandela, who was born in a country that viewed him as a second-class citizen, died Thursday as one of the most respected statesmen in the world. He was 95.

President Jacob Zuma announced the death in a televised speech.

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Parallels
3:38 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

A Chronic Problem In Disaster Zones: No Fuel

Filipino men stand in line to fill containers with gas in Tacloban, Philippines, on Sunday. The area experienced widespread gas shortages in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 7:00 pm

In the wake of any natural disaster, there are almost always shortages of fuel. Even in the United States, gas stations shut down during blackouts because there's no electricity to run their pumps.

It was no different in the Philippines, where practically no fuel was available after Typhoon Haiyan struck. Aid agencies said the lack of gasoline was a major impediment to relief efforts.

One small American nonprofit called the Fuel Relief Fund is trying to change that.

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Typhoon Haiyan Devastates The Philippines
3:31 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Catholics In Philippines Turn To Church To Cope With Typhoon

A Filipino woman prays at morning Mass at Santo Nino church, which was damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, on Sunday.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 5:03 pm

Across the ravaged center of the Philippines on Sunday, people flocked to Mass, often in churches that had been severely damaged or destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan.

In many villages in Leyte province, the only structures that survived the storm were churches. Spires and statues of angels look out over fields of smashed houses and twisted typhoon debris.

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Typhoon Haiyan Devastates The Philippines
1:52 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

Photos: A Crippled Hospital Aids Desperate Survivors

David P. Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 6:50 pm

In the typhoon-ravaged heart of the Philippines, many hospitals were badly damaged or destroyed by the storm. NPR photojournalist David Gilkey and reporter Jason Beaubien visited one battered hospital that continues to serve patients.

More than a week after the storm, the staff at Divine Word Hospital are simultaneously trying to patch up the hospital and take care of patients.

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Asia
5:47 am
Thu November 14, 2013

U.S. Military Helps Transport Typhoon Survivors

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 9:26 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Stories of survival are emerging from the Philippines after the devastation brought by Typhoon Haiyan. Twenty-three-year-old Marcelo Maloon(ph) was studying nursing in Tacloban, the city hardest hit by the storm. And on the day of the typhoon, Maloon took shelter in a hotel with friends.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Parallels
2:22 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Do For-Profit Schools Give Poor Kenyans A Real Choice?

Young students in a Bridge International Academy school in Nairobi, in September. On the surface, there's little to distinguish these schools from others in the developing world. But Bridge's model relies on teachers reading lessons from tablets.
Frederic Courbet for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:21 pm

Bridge International Academies has set up more than 200 schools in Kenya over the past four years, and plans to open 50 more in January.

Using a school-in-a-box model, Bridge's founders say it gives primary schoolkids a quality education for roughly $5 a month.

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Shots - Health News
6:00 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Aid Groups Struggle To Reach Survivors Of Typhoon Haiyan

Military personnel from the U.S. and the Philippines unload relief goods at the Tacloban airport, Nov. 11, 2013. Some reports estimate that 10,000 people may have died in the city of Tacloban.
Ted Aljibe AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 8:08 am

Aid agencies are scrambling to try to get water and food to people in the Philippines who've been left homeless or injured by Typhoon Haiyan.

But reaching some of the areas ravaged by the intense storm is proving difficult. Even when aid can make it onto the islands, it's still not clear what supplies are needed the most.

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Shots - Health News
12:34 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Polio In The Middle East And Africa Could Threaten Europe

A doctor vaccinates a child against polio at a health clinic in Damascus, Syria, on Nov. 6. To stop the disease from spreading beyond Syria, health officials plan to vaccinate 20 million children in the region.
Youssef Badawi EPA /LANDOV

Polio outbreaks in the Middle East and Africa could spread to Europe if precautions aren't taken, researchers say.

The recent discovery of the poliovirus in Syria, Somalia and Israel should be a wake-up call for European health officials, according to epidemiologist Martin Eichner at the University of Tuebingen in Germany.

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Shots - Health News
6:25 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Polio Has Not Returned To South Sudan, After All

We reported Wednesday that the polio outbreak in Somalia had spread to South Sudan. But health officials say that they were mistaken. There have been no polio cases in the country since 2009.

The World Health Organization said previously that it had confirmed three cases of polio in South Sudan back in August.

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Shots - Health News
4:29 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Violence, Chaos Let Polio Creep Back Into Syria And Horn Of Africa

The Ethiopian government has set up about a dozen vaccination booths along its thousand-mile border with Somalia.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 6:27 pm

Update on Thursday, Oct. 31, 6:30 p.m. ET:

A spokesman for the World Health Organization said Thursday that it was mistaken about the polio outbreak in Somalia spreading to South Sudan. The virus has been detected in Kenya and Ethiopia this year. But South Sudan has not recorded a polio case since 2009.

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Shots - Health News
9:27 am
Mon October 21, 2013

First Polio Cases Since 1999 Suspected In Syria

Syrian opposition fighters sit on the front line in the city of Deir Ezzor on Oct. 13. Ongoing violence has ravaged the city since March 2011.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 10:10 am

The World Health Organization is investigating a cluster of possible polio cases in an eastern province of Syria.

If the cases are confirmed, they'd be the first ones in the war-torn nation in more than a decade. The country eliminated polio in 1999.

Syria used to have one of the highest polio vaccination rates in the region. If the virus has returned, it would be a high-profile example of the ramifications of the collapse of Syria's once-vaunted public health system.

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Shots - Health News
11:54 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Tuberculosis Hitched A Ride When Early Humans Left Africa

Signs of tuberculosis have been found in ancient Egyptian mummies, such as this one in London's British Museum.
Klafubra Wikimedia.org

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 1:55 pm

Dogs often get credit for being humans' constant companions. But dogs have nothing on tuberculosis bacteria.

TB and people have been trapped in a relationship that's been going on for thousands of years — perhaps even tens of thousands of years, scientists said earlier this week.

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Shots - Health News
12:33 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Chronic Illnesses Outpace Infections As Big Killers Worldwide

Percentage of deaths each year due to neonatal disorders around the globe.
Courtesy of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 4:41 pm

People around the world are getting healthier and living longer.

Infectious diseases are declining around the globe. But at the same time, chronic health problems are on the rise, particularly in developing nations.

These are some of the key findings in the latest reports released by the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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Shots - Health News
3:24 am
Mon September 2, 2013

To Keep Polio At Bay, Israel Revaccinates A Million Kids

In early August, Israel launched a mass campaign to vaccinate children against polio, including this little girl at a clinic in Rahat.
David Buimovitch AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 10:10 am

Israel is in the midst of a massive, emergency immunization drive of all children under the age of 9 against polio.

Why?

Health workers detected the virus in southern Israel in February. Since then, they've found it in 85 different sewage samples across the country, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative said Wednesday. Yet so far, no children have gotten sick or been paralyzed by the virus.

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Shots - Health News
5:13 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

In South Africa, A Clinic Focuses On Prostitutes To Fight HIV

A prostitute in Johannesburg waits for a client on a street corner. An estimated two-thirds of sex workers in South Africa are HIV positive.
Yoav Lemmer AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 9:25 pm

South Africa has come a long way in dealing with AIDS. The country has been successful in getting drug treatment to millions of people infected with HIV.

But the country still has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world — and the virus continues to spread. Nearly 400,000 South Africans are infected with HIV each year.

One health clinic in the heart of Johannesburg is attempting to break the HIV cycle by focusing on people at extremely high risk for infection — prostitutes.

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Shots - Health News
3:55 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

After Missteps In HIV Care, South Africa Finds Its Way

A nurse takes a blood sample from Nkosi Minenhle, 15, in a mobile clinic set up to test students for HIV at Madwaleni High School in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
Stephane de Sakutin AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 4:39 pm

South Africa has more people with HIV than any other country in the world.

Roughly 5.5 million of its 53 million citizens are infected with the virus. In some of the hardest hit parts of the country, one-third of women of childbearing age are HIV positive.

Now, after years of delay and mistakes, South Africa is transforming how it approaches the disease.

The South African government is simplifying AIDS care, cutting treatment costs and providing antiviral drugs to almost 2 million people every day.

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Shots - Health News
7:04 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Experimental Malaria Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Test

A red blood cell infected with malaria parasites (blue) sits next to normal cells (red).
NIAID Flickr.com

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 11:02 am

A viable, effective vaccine against malaria has long eluded scientists. Results from a preliminary study have ignited hope that a new type of vaccine could change that.

The experimental vaccine offered strong protection against malaria when given at high doses, scientists report Thursday in the journal Science.

The study was extremely small and short-term. And the candidate vaccine still has a long way to go before it could be used in the developing world.

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Parallels
3:40 am
Thu July 25, 2013

South Africans Ponder A Nation Without Mandela

A well-wisher uses his phone to take a picture of a banner of photos of Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where the former South African president is being treated.
Ben Curtis AP

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 7:10 pm

From the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg, shack dwellers can look across a ravine to the spires of Sandton City, which houses the most lavish shopping mall in sub-Saharan Africa.

Alex, as this slum of roughly a half a million people is known, was home to Nelson Mandela when he first moved to Johannesburg in 1941.

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Shots - Health News
6:44 am
Sat July 20, 2013

Polio Eradication Suffers A Setback As Somali Outbreak Worsens

A Yemeni child receives a polio vaccine in the capital city of Sanaa. The Yemen government launched an immunization campaign last month in response to the polio outbreak in neighboring Somalia.
Mohammed Huwais AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 9:02 pm

Somalia hadn't had a case of polio for nearly six years. But in the past few months, the virus has come back. Now the East African country has the worst polio outbreak anywhere in the world.

Twenty new cases of polio were reported this week in Somalia by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. That brings the total number of cases in the Horn of Africa to 73. The rest of the world combined has tallied only 59 cases so far this year.

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Parallels
3:25 am
Thu July 18, 2013

As Nelson Mandela Turns 95, South Africa Celebrates

Supporters of Nelson Mandela rally outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, where he has been treated for more than a month. The anti-apartheid icon turned 95 on Thursday.
Jonathan Blakley NPR

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 10:39 am

While South Africa celebrates the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela on Thursday, the former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate remains at a Pretoria hospital, where he's been hospitalized since June 8 with a recurring lung infection.

President Jacob Zuma's office has said that Mandela is in "critical but stable" condition, though Mandela's daughter Zindzi said Wednesday that her father was making "remarkable progress" and could be released soon.

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