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. He was part of a team of reporters at NPR that won a Peabody Award in 2015 for their extensive coverage of 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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Shots - Health News
4:12 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Rich With Water But Little To Drink In Tajikistan

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

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 11:18 am

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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Shots - Health News
2:20 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Myths And Stigma Stoke TB Epidemic In Tajikistan

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

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 9:51 am

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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Shots - Health News
1:15 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Polio Outbreak In Somalia Jeopardizes Global Eradication

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

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 8:22 pm

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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Shots - Health News
8:08 am
Tue May 7, 2013

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

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
2:00 am
Fri April 26, 2013

A $5.5 Billion Road Map To Banish Polio Forever

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
10:38 am
Mon April 8, 2013

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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Shots - Health News
5:45 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 8:56 pm

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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Shots - Health News
9:14 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Power Shift Under Way As Middle Class Expands In Developing World

Brookings Institution

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 8:00 am

"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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Shots - Health News
2:42 am
Thu February 28, 2013

What Happened To The Aid Meant To Rebuild Haiti?

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

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 3:39 pm

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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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Treating HIV Patients Protects Whole Community

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

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 8:51 am

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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