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.

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Goats and Soda
12:46 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 5:07 am

This week a man died in New Jersey of a hemorrhagic fever. 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.

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Goats and Soda
12:32 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 12:36 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.

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Goats and Soda
12:42 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 5:00 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.

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Goats and Soda
12:25 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 11:44 am

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."

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Goats and Soda
1:30 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 4:46 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.

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Goats and Soda
12:24 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 7:14 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.

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Goats and Soda
3:06 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 12:52 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.

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Goats and Soda
1:31 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 3:58 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.

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Goats and Soda
2:04 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 9:13 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.

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Goats and Soda
2:41 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 3:29 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.

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