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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Goats and Soda
3:30 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

The Whole World Is Fat! And That Ends Up Costing $2 Trillion A Year

This Chinese teenager weighs 353 pounds. At a "slimming center" in China's central Hubei province, he's exercising and undergoing acupuncture to lose weight.
Color China AP

Originally published on Sun November 23, 2014 6:18 pm

Obesity used to be an issue primarily in well-off countries. It was one of those things flippantly dismissed as a "first-world problem." Now people are packing on the pounds all over the planet. In some fast-growing cities in China, for example, half the people are now overweight.

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Goats and Soda
1:32 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Mali Already Has An Ebola Cluster: Can The Virus Be Stopped?

A town crier rides his moped through the city of Kayes in Mali, using his megaphone to warn people about Ebola.
Nick Loomis Courtesy of Global Post

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 5:58 am

"This is not just one case," says Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It's a cluster." He's talking about the Ebola situation in Mali, where two people have likely died of the disease in Bamako, the capital, and two others have tested positive.

Hundreds more may have been exposed. Officials from the U.N., the World Health Organization, the government of Mali and the CDC are all calling for swift action to keep Mali from descending into the Ebola chaos that's hit neighboring Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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Goats and Soda
1:25 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Mali Is Worried About Ebola, Quarantines Nearly 100

A police officer stands in front of the Pasteur clinic in Bamako, which was quarantined after a nurse there died from Ebola.
Habibou Kouyate AFP/Getty Images

Mali slapped quarantine orders on nearly 90 people on Wednesday and closed a mosque and a health facility in an effort to contain an Ebola outbreak.

The moves come after a nurse at a private clinic in the capital, Bamako, was confirmed as an Ebola victim.

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Goats and Soda
7:30 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Guinea Is Seeing More Ebola Cases: Can The Trend Be Stopped?

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 12:08 pm

In the current Ebola crisis, much of the focus has been on Liberia and Sierra Leone. But the virus also continues to spread in Guinea, where the first case in the current outbreak was identified in March.

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Goats and Soda
2:58 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

U.S. Military Response To Ebola Gains Momentum In Liberia

Air Force personnel put up tents to house a 25-bed, U.S.-built hospital for Liberian health workers sick with Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia's capital. The hospital is scheduled to open this weekend.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 8:23 am

Two new U.S. Ebola treatment facilities are expected to open in Liberia over the next week. One is a 25-bed field hospital near Monrovia's airport, specifically to treat local health care workers who get infected. The other is a 100-bed Ebola treatment unit, or ETU, in the town of Tubmanburg, north of Monrovia.

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Shots - Health News
3:08 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Ebola Researchers Banned From Medical Meeting In New Orleans

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 10:45 am

Louisiana health officials say that anyone who's been in an Ebola-affected country over the last three weeks will be quarantined in their hotel rooms.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is telling researchers who've recently traveled to Ebola-affected parts of West Africa that they can't come to the society's annual meeting. That wasn't the medical group's idea.

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Goats and Soda
10:51 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Happy Birthday To Google Doodle Honoree Dr. Jonas Salk!

Jonas Salk was born on October 28, 1914 in New York City. Google is celebrating the birth of the man who developed a polio vaccine with a special Google doodle.

During the fervor of the current Ebola outbreak, it seems like a good moment to tip our hats to one of the heroes of an earlier epidemic. Salk developed a vaccine for polio in 1953. At a time polio was sweeping across the United States crippling children and terrifying parents.

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Goats and Soda
3:26 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Medical Journal To Governors: You're Wrong About Ebola Quarantine

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (right) and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both insist on mandatory quarantine for healthcare workers who've had contact with Ebola patients. Christie wants them held in a medical facility; Cuomo says a home quarantine with outside monitoring would do.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 10:13 am

The usually staid New England Journal of Medicine is blasting the decision of some states to quarantine returning Ebola healthcare workers.

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Global Health
3:10 pm
Sat October 25, 2014

Gear Wars: Whose Ebola Protective Suit Is Better?

A female sanitation worker wears standard gear for a Doctors Without Borders Ebola center. The outfit includes rubber boots, goggles, a face mask, a hood, three layers of gloves, a Tyvek suit and thick rubber apron. No exposed skin is allowed. She was photographed in Monrovia, Liberia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 1:38 pm

In a white tent outside an Ebola treatment ward in Monrovia, Dr. Dan Lucey fondles a surgical glove. He rubs the latex between his thumb and forefinger the way a tailor might caress a piece of fine silk.

"They have very good gloves here," Lucey gushes about the Ebola suits used by Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF. "The MSF personal protective equipment is the best!"

Lucey, a professor of immunology at Georgetown University, calls the MSF protective gear "the gold standard."

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Goats and Soda
2:03 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Back On Its Feet, A Liberian Hospital Aims To Keep Ebola Out

Dr. Wvennie MacDonald, the administrator of the JFK Memorial Hospital, has helped put new procedures in place to keep Ebola out, including a triage station to identify possible Ebola patients at the front gate.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 5:20 pm

John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital is the largest public hospital in Liberia. It has a trauma unit, a maternity ward and an outpatient clinic that serves hundreds a day.

But there's one illness that the facility won't treat: Ebola. JFK is not equipped to treat or contain it if it gets inside their wards. A new triage unit in the driveway detects patients with the virus and sends them to a dedicated Ebola center.

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Goats and Soda
1:25 am
Mon October 13, 2014

On Front Lines Against Ebola, Training A Matter Of Life Or Death

Dr. Patrick Kamara adjusts his googles on the final day of training and the first "dress rehearsal" before being sent out to Ebola treatment units. The World Health Organization is ramping up to train up to 500 new health workers a week as part of the effort to stem the spread of Ebola.
John W. Poole/NPR

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 5:20 pm

One of the biggest roadblocks in West Africa to containing the Ebola outbreak is the lack of isolation wards for people who are infected.

President Obama has announced plans to build 17 new Ebola Treatment Units in Liberia. Those new medical facilities will require thousands of additional workers who are trained and willing to work in them.

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Global Health
2:55 pm
Sun October 12, 2014

Liberian Singers Use The Power Of Music To Raise Ebola Awareness

Elliott Adekoya, 31, aka The Milkman, is a DJ at Monrovia's Sky FM radio, pictured here his DJ booth. He is also part of a group of 45 Liberian musicians called the Save Liberia Project. They want to get the word out that Ebola is real, but it is not a death sentence. He says that message, which was propagated early on by the Ministry of Health, actually contributed to the problem.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Sun October 12, 2014 4:52 pm

In West Africa, one of the simplest ways to slow the Ebola outbreak is to educate people about how to keep from getting infected with the virus. Now, there are some signs that Ebola awareness is indeed driving down the number of cases in parts of Liberia — and Liberian musicians and DJs may deserve some of the credit.

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Goats and Soda
2:28 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

A Liberian Doctor Comes Up With His Own Ebola Regimen

Dr. Gabriel Logan is one of two doctors at the Bomi county hospital, which serves a county of 85,000 people. In a desperate attempt to save Ebola patients, he started experimenting with an HIV drug to treat them.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 4:43 pm

Dr. Gabriel Logan is a bundle of energy. Wearing a yellow dress shirt untucked from his slacks, he races around the Liberian government hospital compound in Tubmanburg, north of the capital, Monrovia.

He also moves fast on the medical front, experimenting with his own idea of treatment for Ebola patients.

Back in July this hospital, which was the main medical facility for the region, was closed after 10 of the staffers got sick with Ebola.

"We sent them to Monrovia," he says. Of the 10, only one survived.

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Goats and Soda
3:04 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Fond Memories Of Ebola Victim Eric Duncan, Anger Over His Death

The home of Marthalene Williams, the Ebola-stricken woman aided by Thomas Eric Duncan. A man on the porch, who appeared to be in the late stages of Ebola, informed our photographer that he'd been to a hospital but was told to return home and quarantine himself.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 7:13 am

He liked to joke around with his neighbors. And he always gave them a helping hand. The neighbors that Thomas Eric Duncan's generous spirit is what cost him his life.

Duncan, 42, was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and the first to die of the disease on American soil. He likely contracted the disease in Liberia when he carried a pregnant woman, sick with Ebola, into her house after no clinic would admit her.

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Global Health
2:22 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

In West Africa, U.S. Efforts In Ebola Response Start To Move Forward

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 3:43 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Goats and Soda
2:03 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Firestone Did What Governments Have Not: Stopped Ebola In Its Tracks

At Firestone's plantation, workers gather at a shelter in the rubber tree forest, where buckets of sap are collected for processing.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 1:02 pm

The classic slogan for Firestone tires was "where the rubber meets the road."

When it comes to Ebola, the rubber met the road at the Firestone rubber plantation in Harbel, Liberia.

Harbel is a company town not far from the capital city of Monrovia. It was named in 1926 after the founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Harvey and his wife, Idabelle. Today, Firestone workers and their families make up a community of 80,000 people across the plantation.

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Goats and Soda
12:06 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Europe's 'Moral Obligation' Is To Repair West Africa's Health Care System

Tonio Borg of Malta, the European Union's Health Commissioner, is spearheading the EU response to the Ebola outbreak.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

It's not just about Ebola.

That's the message from EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg. He was in Washington last week to talk about Europe's response to the crisis at a meeting of the Global Health Security Agenda. The European Union is a key player in the global effort to stop the epidemic.

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Goats and Soda
10:14 am
Wed September 24, 2014

He Fixed South Africa's AIDS Policy, Now He's Out To Fight Salt

South Africa Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has no patience for people who abuse their health and expect the government to fix things.
Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi had arrived in the U.S. for a two-week visit. "I'm here to meet influential people," he says energetically despite having just gotten off a transatlantic flight.

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Goats and Soda
2:41 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Even When Abortion Is Illegal, The Market May Sell Pills For Abortion

In the markets of San Salvador, El Salvador, you can have your palm read, you can buy plumbing tools ... and you can purchase abortion pills.
John Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 7:22 am

In the central market in San Salvador, you can buy just about anything you want: tomatoes by the wheelbarrow full. Fresh goat's milk straight from the goat. Underwear. Plumbing supplies. Fruit. Hollywood's latest blockbusters burned straight onto a DVD.

And in the back of the market, in a small stall lined with jars of dried herbs, roots and mushrooms, you can buy an abortion.

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Goats and Soda
2:58 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Why A Teenage Mom Was Jailed In El Salvador After A Stillbirth

Christina Quintanilla looks out at the lake near her hometown of San Miguel in eastern El Salvador.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 9:23 am

Christina Quintanilla's nightmare with El Salvador's abortion law began on Oct. 26, 2004.

Quintanilla was 17 at the time, and seven months pregnant with her second child. She was living in her mother's apartment, and that night, she couldn't get comfortable. Her belly was bulging, her back was aching, and her stomach was upset.

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Goats and Soda
2:15 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Will Obama's Plan Bring The Ebola Outbreak Under Control?

President Obama meets with Emory University doctors and health care workers during his visit Tuesday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 10:37 pm

It is the biggest anti-Ebola effort yet.

After months of calls by aid workers for the global community to do something about the escalating crisis, President Obama has announced plans for a massive international intervention.

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Goats and Soda
3:17 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

The Changing Face Of West Africa Has Fueled The Ebola Crisis

Ebola has spread through Monrovia, Liberia's congested capital city.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 11:26 pm

There's been a lot of finger-pointing this week over whom to blame for the slow response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Questions are being raised about why this epidemic has spun out of control and turned into the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

The inability of local health care providers and international aid groups to contain the virus is part of the problem. But major demographic and environmental changes in Africa are also contributing to the crisis.

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Global Health
2:19 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Health Officials Warn Ebola Is Spreading Faster Than Efforts To Contain It

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 5:04 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
3:19 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

A Suspected Ebola Patient On The Run In Liberia

via YouTube

A newly released video shows health workers in Liberia attempting to capture a suspected Ebola patient, who had allegedly escaped from a treatment center on Sept. 1.

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Goats and Soda
2:54 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Tom Frieden's Ebola Assessment: The Risk Is Increasing

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, talks with staff from Doctors Without Borders during a visit to the nonprofit group's newest Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 6:44 am

The Ebola outbreak has crippled local health systems. It's flooded wards with patients, killed doctors, scared away medical staff and forced some hospitals to shut down entirely.

That's the grim assessment of Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who's visiting West Africa this week for a firsthand look at the situation. Frieden spoke to Goats and Soda by cell phone as he was traveling by car from the hard-hit eastern Sierra Leone city of Kenema back to the capital, Freetown.

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Goats and Soda
2:50 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Ebola Shuts Down The Oldest Hospital In Liberia

Wearing protective boots and gloves, a nurse sweeps the grounds of St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital. Overwhelmed by Ebola, the facility is now closed.
Ahmed Jallanzo EPA /LANDOV

Hospitals in Africa are almost always teeming with people. In addition to patients waiting for care, friends and relatives are usually gathered on the hospital grounds.

But in the Liberian capital Monrovia, Ebola has silenced St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital. It is completely shut.

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Africa
2:05 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Ebola Closes The Doors Of One Of Liberia's Oldest Hospitals

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 7:45 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
7:21 am
Sun August 3, 2014

Helping Children, Despite Death Threats: A Vaccinator Explains

A health worker vaccinates a child during a polio campaign in Bannu, Pakistan, June 25. The Taliban threaten to kill vaccinators and parents who immunize their kids.
A Majeed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 10:00 am

When my translator and I arrive in a crowded, dusty neighborhood in Karachi, Fatima Noor is waiting in a full black burqa. But she pretends not to see us.

She turns down the alley and disappears. We follow her into a neighborhood, where the buildings are so close together that Noor's burqa brushes the walls.

Finally she slips into the entryway of a building, and with a sigh of relief, she pulls back her headscarf.

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Global Health
3:03 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Sierra Leone Declares Quarantine, As Ebola Outbreak Worsens

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 6:07 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
5:59 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

The Hidden Costs Of Fighting Polio In Pakistan

During nationwide polio campaigns, hundreds of thousands of health workers go door to door, giving children two drops of the polio vaccine.
Anadolu Agency Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 9:06 pm

Pakistan is currently at the center of the global effort to eradicate polio. Although the country has reported only about a hundred cases this year, that's more cases than in all other nations combined.

Eliminating the paralyzing disease is a major logistical operation in Pakistan. More than 200,000 vaccinators fan out across the country, several times a year, to inoculate millions of children. The government also deploys tens of thousands of armed security forces to guard the workers.

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