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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4:56pm

Thu August 8, 2013
Shots - Health News

Experimental Malaria Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Test

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 9:02 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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1:40am

Thu July 25, 2013
Parallels

South Africans Ponder A Nation Without Mandela

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 5:10 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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4:44am

Sat July 20, 2013
Shots - Health News

Polio Eradication Suffers A Setback As Somali Outbreak Worsens

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 7:02 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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1:25am

Thu July 18, 2013
Parallels

As Nelson Mandela Turns 95, South Africa Celebrates

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 8:39 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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1:15am

Tue July 16, 2013
Shots - Health News

South Africa Weighs Starting HIV Drug Treatment Sooner

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 4:22 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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3:12pm

Wed July 10, 2013
Shots - Health News

Rich With Water But Little To Drink In Tajikistan

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 10:18 am

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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2:06pm

Tue July 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

Curing Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis In Kids Takes Creativity

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 7:07 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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1:20am

Tue July 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

Myths And Stigma Stoke TB Epidemic In Tajikistan

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 8:51 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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12:15pm

Fri June 28, 2013
Shots - Health News

Polio Outbreak In Somalia Jeopardizes Global Eradication

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 7:22 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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1:16pm

Thu June 13, 2013
Shots - Health News

Haiti Moves A Step Closer Toward Eradicating Elephantiasis

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 5:13 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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2:17pm

Tue June 4, 2013
Shots - Health News

Faces Of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 9:25 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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3:54pm

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 8:33 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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7:08am

Tue May 7, 2013
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 7:46 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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1:00am

Fri April 26, 2013
Shots - Health News

A $5.5 Billion Road Map To Banish Polio Forever

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 4:59 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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5:19pm

Wed April 10, 2013
Shots - Health News

A New Way To Make The Most Powerful Malaria Drug

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 5:39 pm

An extract of sweet wormwood has been used in China for thousands of years to treat malaria, but being able to make mass quantities of the extract has been elusive, until now.
Sarah Cuttle Getty Images

Researchers in California described Wednesday their new method for mass-producing the key ingredient for the herbal drug artemisinin, the most powerful antimalarial on the market. Already, the French drugmaker Sanofi is ramping up production at a plant in Italy to manufacture the ingredient and the drug.

Global health advocates say they expect this new method of producing artemisinin will at last provide a stable supply of the drug and cut the overall cost of malaria treatment.

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9:38am

Mon April 8, 2013
Shots - Health News

Dengue Fever Cases Have Been Seriously Underestimated

Dengue fever patients are treated in a hospital in Asuncion, Paraguay, in January.
Norberto Duarte AFP/Getty Images

A new paper in the journal Nature says scientists have been seriously underestimating the amount of dengue around the globe.

The study says there could be as many as 400 million dengue infections worldwide each year making it more prevalent than malaria. This is four times higher than the current dengue prevalence estimate of the World Health Organization.

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4:45pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

How To Get Rid Of Polio For Good? There's A $5 Billion Plan

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:56 pm

A child is immunized against polio at the health clinic in a farming village in northern Nigeria. The procedure involves pinching two drops of the vaccine into the child's mouth. For full protection, the child needs three doses, spaced out over time.
David Gilkey NPR

Polio is on the verge of being eliminated. Last year there were just over 200 cases of polio, and they occurred in just two remote parts of the world — northern Nigeria and the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border region.

A new $5.5 billion plan being pushed by the World Health Organization strives to eliminate polio entirely, phase out vaccination campaigns and secure polio vaccine stockpiles in case the virus somehow manages to re-emerge.

If the effort is successful, polio would be just the second disease in human history, after smallpox, to be eliminated by medical science.

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8:14am

Fri March 15, 2013
Shots - Health News

Power Shift Under Way As Middle Class Expands In Developing World

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 7:00 am

Brookings Institution

"The meek shall inherit the earth" — that seems to be the latest message from the United Nations Development Program.

Their 2013 Human Development Report chronicles the recent, rapid expansion of the middle class in the developing world. It also predicts that over the next two decades growth in the so-called "Global South" will dramatically shift economic and political power away from Europe and North America.

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1:42am

Thu February 28, 2013
Shots - Health News

What Happened To The Aid Meant To Rebuild Haiti?

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 2:39 pm

Many homes that were rebuilt after the earthquake in 2010 are even more dangerous than the original ones. This three-story home was put up after the quake but is already slated for demolition to make way for an 18-unit housing project.
David Gilkey NPR

After a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, governments and foundations from around the world pledged more than $9 billion to help get the country back on its feet.

Only a fraction of the money ever made it. And Haiti's President Michel Martelly says the funds aren't "showing results."

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1:25am

Fri February 22, 2013
Shots - Health News

Treating HIV Patients Protects Whole Community

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 7:51 am

HIV drugs not only can keep patients healthy but also can stop the sexual transmission of the virus. Here an HIV-positive mother picks up medications at a hospital outside Johannesburg, South Africa.
Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images

Over the past few decades, one of the most perplexing questions in global health is how to stop HIV.

There have been campaigns involving condoms, abstinence and even the circumcision of all men younger than 46. But one relatively new strategy, called treatment as prevention, is causing quite a buzz.

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