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
6:02 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Sharp Rise In MERS Cases May Mean The Virus Is Evolving

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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Africa
6:12 am
Sat April 19, 2014

Polio Threatens To Spread Through Central Africa

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 9:40 am

A polio outbreak in Cameroon has spread to Equatorial Guinea and threatens to move throughout Central Africa. Before the outbreak, Equatorial Guinea had been free of polio for nearly 15 years.

Shots - Health News
1:29 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Polio Hits Equatorial Guinea, Threatens Central Africa

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

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 5:41 am

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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Shots - Health News
10:05 am
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 1:58 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
2:27 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 7:13 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
5:58 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

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
6:00 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 6:20 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
6:15 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 6:06 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
1:24 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 6:16 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
2:02 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 10:48 am

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
3:00 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 5:00 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
6:23 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 12:43 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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Africa
3:16 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Forgiveness And Reconciliation, Mandela's Legacy

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 8:49 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. It takes a moment to realize just what made former South African President Nelson Mandela so much more memorable than other leaders. He was not the only man to fight for racial equality. He was not the only man jailed for his beliefs, nor the only man who came out of jail to lead his country, nor even the only African leader to capture the world's attention as the colonial era came to an end.

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Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
3:55 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 9:57 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
2:27 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 5:00 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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Asia
2:44 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

For Filipinos Displaced By Haiyan, The Struggle Continues

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 4:27 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

The United Nations now estimates almost two million people were displaced by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. And many of those survivors now find themselves living in quickly built shacks amidst the debris, without jobs, possessions or community.

NPR's Jason Beaubien has the story of one woman who lost her simple home on the coast of Leyte Province.

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Typhoon Haiyan Devastates The Philippines
2:00 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 3:03 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
12:12 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

Photos: A Crippled Hospital Aids Desperate Survivors

David P. Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 4:50 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
2:50 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Typhoon Survivors In Tacloban Desperate For Food, Clean Water

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 8:49 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

One week after a typhoon crashed into the Philippines, hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from the city of Tacloban, where people are getting desperate for food and clean water.

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Asia
3:44 am
Thu November 14, 2013

U.S. Military Helps Transport Typhoon Survivors

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 7:26 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
12:22 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 April 22, 2014 11:54 am

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
4:00 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 6:08 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
10:34 am
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
3:03 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 4:27 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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Middle East
2:49 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Polio Returns To Syria As Health System Crumbles

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 5:57 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

After weeks of uncertainty, the World Health Organization today confirmed that polio has reemerged in Syria for the first time in 14 years. Earlier this month, health officials reported that 22 children in eastern Syria were paralyzed by what appeared to be polio. And now the WHO says, so far, 10 of the cases have tested positive for polio.

NPR's Jason Beaubien reports.

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Shots - Health News
7:27 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 8:10 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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Africa
3:52 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Kenyan President: Mall Attackers 'Defeated' After Four-Day Fight

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The bloody siege of an upscale mall in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is over. Islamists had seized the shopping center on Saturday with guns blazing, killing shoppers indiscriminately. Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta, made the announcement in a televised address to the nation this evening. He said Kenyan security forces had ashamed and defeated the militants.

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Middle East
3:13 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Relief Agencies Brace For Fallout From Syria Strikes

Humanitarian groups are stockpiling supplies and readying a new refugee camp in Jordan. The conflict in the region is already the largest ongoing humanitarian crisis in the world with millions of Syrians displaced from their homes.

Shots - Health News
9:54 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 11:55 am

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
10:33 am
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 2:41 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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