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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5:17pm

Thu December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95

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

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

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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3:38pm

Wed November 20, 2013
Parallels

A Chronic Problem In Disaster Zones: No Fuel

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

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

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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3:31am

Mon November 18, 2013
Typhoon Haiyan Devastates The Philippines

Catholics In Philippines Turn To Church To Cope With Typhoon

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

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

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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1:52pm

Sat November 16, 2013
Typhoon Haiyan Devastates The Philippines

Photos: A Crippled Hospital Aids Desperate Survivors

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

David P. Gilkey NPR

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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5:47am

Thu November 14, 2013
Asia

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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2:22pm

Tue November 12, 2013
Parallels

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

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 1:54 pm

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

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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6:00pm

Mon November 11, 2013
Shots - Health News

Aid Groups Struggle To Reach Survivors Of Typhoon Haiyan

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

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

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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12:34pm

Fri November 8, 2013
Shots - Health News

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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6:25pm

Thu October 31, 2013
Shots - Health News

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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4:29am

Wed October 30, 2013
Shots - Health News

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

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

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

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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9:27am

Mon October 21, 2013
Shots - Health News

First Polio Cases Since 1999 Suspected In Syria

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

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

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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11:54am

Thu September 5, 2013
Shots - Health News

Tuberculosis Hitched A Ride When Early Humans Left Africa

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

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

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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12:33pm

Wed September 4, 2013
Shots - Health News

Chronic Illnesses Outpace Infections As Big Killers Worldwide

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

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

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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3:24am

Mon September 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

To Keep Polio At Bay, Israel Revaccinates A Million Kids

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

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

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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5:13pm

Wed August 28, 2013
Shots - Health News

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

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

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

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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3:55pm

Tue August 27, 2013
Shots - Health News

After Missteps In HIV Care, South Africa Finds Its Way

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

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

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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7:04pm

Thu August 8, 2013
Shots - Health News

Experimental Malaria Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Test

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

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

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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3:40am

Thu July 25, 2013
Parallels

South Africans Ponder A Nation Without Mandela

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

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

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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6:44am

Sat July 20, 2013
Shots - Health News

Polio Eradication Suffers A Setback As Somali Outbreak Worsens

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

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

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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3:25am

Thu July 18, 2013
Parallels

As Nelson Mandela Turns 95, South Africa Celebrates

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

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

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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3:15am

Tue July 16, 2013
Shots - Health News

South Africa Weighs Starting HIV Drug Treatment Sooner

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 6:22 am

A woman waits to get AIDS drugs on April 8 at a clinic in Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa, about 55 miles north of Johannesburg. New WHO guidelines say patients should start HIV treatment much earlier, before they become extremely sick.
Stephane de Sakutin AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has issued revised guidelines saying that people with HIV should be put on antiviral drugs far earlier than was previously recommended. The hope is that most patients would get started on treatment before they begin to get extremely sick.

It's a move that could have huge implications for African nations where millions of people are infected with HIV. In South Africa roughly 5.5 million people are living with HIV — more than any other country in the world. South Africa also has more people in treatment than anywhere else.

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5:12pm

Wed July 10, 2013
Shots - Health News

Rich With Water But Little To Drink In Tajikistan

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 12:18 pm

A boy collects water at a new spigot in Shululu, Tajikistan. Before the government built a new water system, villagers were allocated half-hour time slots to collect water from a trickling tap.
Jason Beaubien NPR

The Central Asian nation of Tajikistan has huge rivers. They begin atop some of the world's highest mountains and then flow west through the country's lush, green valleys. Yet for many Tajik families, getting enough water each day is still a struggle.

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3:45pm

Tue July 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

Curing Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis In Kids Takes Creativity

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 9:07 pm

Rukshona Saidova, 12, lives with both HIV and tuberculosis. She can't walk right now because the diseases have atrophied muscles in her legs.
Jason Beaubien NPR

The world is struggling to cope with a growing epidemic of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Treatment is even more complicated for children.

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3:20am

Tue July 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

Myths And Stigma Stoke TB Epidemic In Tajikistan

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 10:51 am

Nurse Tina Martin checks on Orion Qurbonaliev, 4, who has tuberculosis. Orion's grandmother, Kholbibi Abdulloeva, also has TB.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Four-year-old Orion Qurbonaliev is lucky to be alive. Just last February, the little boy was lying comatose in the tuberculosis ward of a hospital in southern Tajikistan. The bacteria had spread to his spine and paralyzed the right side of his body. He was severely dehydrated and malnourished.

The staff on the government-run ward had run out of options for treating Orion. "They just left this kid to die," says Tina Martin, a nurse with Doctors Without Borders.

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2:15pm

Fri June 28, 2013
Shots - Health News

Polio Outbreak In Somalia Jeopardizes Global Eradication

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 9:22 pm

Health workers vaccinate a boy against polio at a May immunization drive in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Farah Abdi Warsameh AP

A big worry among people trying to wipe out polio is that the virus will regain a foothold, somewhere to launch a comeback — someplace, perhaps, like Somalia.

Polio has paralyzed 25 kids in Somalia and another six in a Kenyan refugee camp since early May, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative reported Wednesday. Before this outbreak, Somalia hadn't had a polio case in more than five years.

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3:16pm

Thu June 13, 2013
Shots - Health News

Haiti Moves A Step Closer Toward Eradicating Elephantiasis

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 7:13 pm

Boys at the L'Ecole Les Freres Clement elementary school in Jacmel, Haiti, line up to take deworming pills that protect against elephantiasis.
Maggie Steber for The Washington Post Getty Images

Haiti has finally carried out a nationwide campaign to get rid of the parasitic worms that cause elephantiasis.

Haiti has waged other campaigns against the condition, characterized by severe disfiguration of the legs and arms. But until now, it has never managed to adequately reach residents of the chaotic capital Port-au-Prince.

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4:17pm

Tue June 4, 2013
Shots - Health News

Faces Of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 11:25 am

Forms of tuberculosis are emerging that are costly, difficult and at times, nearly impossible to treat. This new, worldwide threat is called multidrug-resistant TB, and it occurs when the bacteria no longer respond to the most common TB medications. Doctors have to turn, instead, to older, less effective drugs that can have devastating side effects such as hearing loss, blindness, aches and severe depression.

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5:43pm

Mon June 3, 2013
Shots - Health News

Love In The Time Of TB: A Young Family Fights An Ancient Foe

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 10:33 am

Oxana and Pavel Rucsineanu walk to the tuberculosis hospital in Balti, Moldova. Oxana and their new baby live in an apartment, but Pavel still has to stay at the TB ward, fighting for his life.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Oxana and Pavel Rucsineanu fell in love under the drug-induced haze of powerful tuberculosis medications. It was the summer of 2008. They were both in their late 20s, and they should have been in the prime of their lives.

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9:08am

Tue May 7, 2013
Shots - Health News

Saving Newborns: 'Kangaroo Care' Could Go A Long Way

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 9:46 am

A health worker weighs a Somali baby on scales at a medical clinic in Mogadishu. Babies in Somalia have the highest risk of dying within the first 24 hours after birth.
Carl de Souza AFP/Getty Images

In the developing world, a baby's first day of life is often the most perilous.

Roughly 3 million newborns die each year, the nonprofit Save the Children reported Tuesday. Most of these deaths occur in the first week of life, and more than 1 million babies pass away within 24 hours of being born.

Although the report calls for some big changes in health care systems to prevent newborn deaths, it also says that some simple, inexpensive things could save many lives.

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3:00am

Fri April 26, 2013
Shots - Health News

A $5.5 Billion Road Map To Banish Polio Forever

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 6:59 pm

A health worker marks a baby's finger after giving her a polio vaccine in Moradabad, India.
Michaeleen Doucleff NPR

Polio isn't going easily into the dustbin of history.

The world needs to push it in, throw down the lid and then keep an eye out to make sure it doesn't escape.

That's the gist of a new plan released Thursday by the World Health Organization and other foundations at a vaccine meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

It's a six-year, $5.5 billion program, and its goal is to wipe out polio for good.

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