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. During 2014, he reported extensively on 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.

Pages

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.

Read more
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 Wed May 27, 2015 1:36 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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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."

Read more
Goats and Soda
2:30 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Eyes In The Sky: Foam Drones Keep Watch On Rain Forest Trees

A man and his drone: Carlos Casteneda of the Amazon Basin Conservation Association prepares to launch one of his plastic foam planes.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 5:46 pm

A couple of toy planes are out to catch illegal loggers and miners in the Amazon.

It's an awesome responsibility.

Every year, illegal logging and mining in the Peruvian Amazon destroy tens of thousands of acres of rain forest. The deforestation in remote parts of the jungle is difficult to detect while it's going on.

Read more
Goats and Soda
1:24 am
Tue May 19, 2015

They're Going Door To Door In The Amazon To See Why People Get Sick

Researchers meet participants: (from left) investigator Jose Luis Roca; Dr. Ernesto Ortiz; study participants Rainer Leon and his mother, Rina Leon Chanbilla; and nurse Jennifer Rampas.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 8:14 am

Is it the mercury or the malaria?

Or maybe it's something else entirely that's making people sick in the Peruvian Amazon.

Those questions are bedeviling researchers from Duke University who have been studying gold mining in the region. Illegal mining has exploded in the area in the past decade, and the people living downriver have a variety of medical issues, from malaria to anemia to high blood pressure.

Read more
Goats and Soda
4:06 am
Sun May 17, 2015

Who Did This To Peru's Jungle?

This aerial view shows the effects of gold mining on Peru's rain forest.
Courtesy of Gregory Asner, Carnegie Institution for Science

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 1:52 pm

Gold has been a blessing and a curse for Peru for centuries. In the 16th century, one of the first Spanish explorers to arrive, Francisco Pizarro, was so enthralled by the mineral riches that he took the Inca king hostage.

Read more
Goats and Soda
2:31 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

What Should Liberia Do With Its Empty Ebola Treatment Units?

A boot-drying rack sits empty at the Ministry of Defense Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 4:58 pm

The plastic orange mesh fences that once separated Ebola patients in the "red zone" from visitors in the "green zone" have collapsed. Corrugated metal roofing sheets flap in the wind. Some of the tents that served as isolation wards are still in good shape, but many of the tarps used as partitions are torn and frayed.

Read more
Goats and Soda
3:04 am
Fri May 15, 2015

It's Like The Story Of Job: Ebola Survivors Who Continue To Suffer

Moses Lasana recovered from Ebola, but he faces a range of medical issues and waves of pain. "The pain just come from one part of the body to another," he says.
Jason Beaubien/NPR

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 10:13 am

His mother named him Moses, but the story of Moses Lasana over the past year unfolds more like the story of Job: Adversity follows tragedy only to be topped off with pain.

Last summer, Moses Lasana's girlfriend, who was nine months pregnant with his child, got Ebola and died. He has two sons; one of them also got sick and died. Then he came down with the disease.

In September, Moses Lasana was cured of Ebola. That should have been good news for the 30-year-old Liberian. But his suffering continues.

Read more
Goats and Soda
3:47 am
Sat May 9, 2015

Block By Block, Health Workers Lead Liberia To Victory Over Ebola

Caroline Williams is a community organizer in New Kru Town, a suburb of Monrovia. Here's how she got her message through to Liberians about preventing Ebola: "We talk to them, talk to them, talk to them. At last they started listening to us. All the methods that we been giving them, by God's will, they accepted."
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Sun May 10, 2015 4:29 am

They were the ones who went door to door to stop the spread of Ebola. They were accused of passing on the virus and had water hurled at them. They were the community health workers — the unsung heroes of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.

Read more
Goats and Soda
3:30 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

As Ebola Leaves Liberia, Measles Makes A Forceful Comeback

A nurse holds a young girl who was vaccinated at the kickoff of a national measles prevention campaign in Liberia.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 8:38 pm

On the northern side of Monrovia, a team of nurses is vaccinating children on the veranda of the AfroMed clinic. Tables with boxes of rubber gloves and vaccine coolers are arranged in the shade out of the intense, tropical sun.

A mother rocks her crying baby, who has just been jabbed with a measles shot. Martina Seyah, who brought her 2-year-old daughter, Irena, to get the shot, says parents in the neighborhood are very worried their children could get measles or other diseases.

Read more
Goats and Soda
2:00 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

You Don't Want To Mess With An Angry Mother

Phyllis Omido is one of six winners of the 2015 Goldman Environmental prizes.
Courtesy of The Goldman Environmental Prize

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 2:42 pm

In the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, Phyllis Omido knew that industry could pose a danger to the surrounding communities. She'd worked on environmental impact assessment reports for several factories.

But when her 2 1/2-year-old son, King David, got sick with a mysterious condition, it didn't occur to her that it might be from environmental toxins. He had a high fever that wasn't responding to medication. He couldn't sleep. He was plagued with diarrhea, and his eyes became runny. He spent two weeks in the hospital, and still no one could figure out what was wrong.

Read more
Health
3:39 pm
Sat April 18, 2015

WHO Leader Says End Of Ebola Outbreak Is Near, But Hard Work Remains

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 4:25 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Read more
Goats and Soda
2:06 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

What's Bigger: Yemen Or Virginia? There's An App For That

From left: How the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen stack up against the United States.
IfItWereMyHome.com

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 3:21 pm

The headlines tell a lot about the crisis in Yemen: internal strife, evacuations of international aid workers, Saudi Arabian airstrikes.

But you may have one very basic question that you can't easily find an answer for: How big is Yemen, anyway?

You can look at maps and check out Wikipedia but wouldn't it be great to just to slap an outline of Yemen on top of a map of the United States to get a sense of its size?

IfItWereMyHome.com lets you do just that.

Read more
Goats and Soda
3:29 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

The Brother Went To Fight Ebola. So Did His Sister. Mom Was 'A Wreck'

How do siblings get around the "no touching" rule during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone? Alex and Jen Tran grabbed a rare hug when they were geared up for training.
Courtesy of Alex Tran

Originally published on Sun March 1, 2015 5:43 pm

When Alex Tran went off to Sierra Leone to work as an epidemiologist, his parents were worried. His mom was "a wreck," according to his sister Jen, who followed him into the Ebola hot zone a few weeks later.

Last fall as the Ebola outbreak raged in West Africa, Alex, 28, was working at USAID. Jen, who's a registered nurse, was deployed with the U.S. Navy on a ship in the Arabian Gulf. They both were itching to get to the front lines of the epidemic to help.

Read more
Global Health
3:42 am
Thu February 26, 2015

U.S. Steps Up Commitment To Fight Malaria

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 5:52 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The White House is stepping up its commitment to fighting a disease that still kills roughly 600,000 people around the world each year. The Obama administration has announced a six-year extension of a program to fight malaria. NPR's Jason Beaubien has more.

Read more
Goats and Soda
1:36 am
Fri February 20, 2015

The World Could Be On The Verge Of Losing A Powerful Malaria Drug

A mother holds her ailing son at a special clinic for malaria in Myanmar.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 5:21 pm

A new study finds a disturbing trend in the battle against malaria. There are highly effective drugs called artemisinins — and now resistant malaria is turning up in parts of Myanmar, the reclusive country also known as Burma, where it hadn't been seen before.

Read more
Goats and Soda
2:20 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Nigeria Is On The Verge Of Bidding Goodbye To Polio

In this 2012 photograph, Adamu Ali carries his 4-year-old son, Omar, who was stricken with polio earlier that year. They live in the Nigerian village of Minjibir.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 4:29 pm

Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the three countries where polio transmission has never been brought to a halt.

Now Nigeria may be leaving this unfortunate club.

In 2006 the West African nation recorded more than 1,000 cases of polio-induced paralysis. Last year it had only six; the most recent was in July.

"This I believe is the first time in history that they've gone this long without having a case," says Gregory Armstrong, chief of the polio eradication branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more
Goats and Soda
2:28 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

The U.S. Helped Beat Back Ebola — Only Not In The Way You Might Think

Boys run from blowing dust as a U.S. Marine vehicle takes off from an Ebola treatment center under construction in Liberia in October. In the end, the centers weren't always needed, but the military's ability to ferry supplies was critical in fighting the outbreak.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 5:08 pm

Hundreds of U.S. troops, sent to help fight Ebola in West Africa, are now coming home. That's the news from the White House today.

Did they make a difference?

Not in the way you'd think. The grand plans to build 17 new field hospitals in Liberia and train thousands of health care workers, announced in September, didn't quite come off. Several of the hospitals weren't needed and were never built. Others opened after the epidemic had peaked and were practically empty. Only a fraction of the promised health workers were trained.

Read more
Goats and Soda
8:40 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Critics Say Ebola Crisis Was WHO's Big Failure. Will Reform Follow?

Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, has said of Ebola: "It overwhelmed the capacity of WHO, and it is a crisis that cannot be solved by a single agency or single country."
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:37 am

Ebola was the Hurricane Katrina for the World Health Organization — its moment of failure. The organization's missteps in the early days of the outbreak are now legendary.

At first the agency that's responsible for "providing leadership on global health matters" was dismissive of the scale of the problem in West Africa. Then it deflected responsibility for the crisis to the overwhelmed governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. After eight months, it finally stepped up to take charge of the Ebola response but lacked the staff and funds to do so effectively.

Read more

Pages