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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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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Goats and Soda
2:40 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Taliban In Pakistan Derail World Polio Eradication

A health worker gives a child the polio vaccine in Bannu, Pakistan, June 25. More than a quarter-million children in Taliban-controlled areas are likely to miss their immunizations.
A. Majeed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 8:46 am

Last January Salma Jaffar was shot while she was going door to door in Karachi, giving children drops of the polio vaccine.

"Even when they took out the pistol, I couldn't understand why he was taking out the gun," Jaffar says of the two men who pulled up on a motorcycle and started shooting at the vaccination team.

"But when he opened fire, that is when I thought it was the end of the life," she says. "My first thought was that I won't be able to see my children again."

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Goats and Soda
1:17 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Rumor Patrol: No, A Snake In A Bag Did Not Cause Ebola

Eerie protective suits and shiny body bags have fueled rumors about the origins of Ebola. Here, a burial team removes the body of a person suspected to have died from the virus in the village of Pendembu, Sierra Leone.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 2:57 pm

"A lady had a snake in a bag. When somebody opened the bag, that made the lady die."

That's the beginning of a story that Temba Morris often hears about the origins of Ebola. Morris runs a government health clinic in a remote village near Sierra Leone's border with Guinea. According to the story, somebody else then looked inside the bag.

"And the one who opened the bag also died," is what Morris hears next. The snake escaped into the Sierra Leone bush.

So there you have it: Ebola is an evil snake that will kill you if you look at it.

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Goats and Soda
2:45 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Ebola Is A Deadly Virus — But Doctors Say It Can Be Beaten

Sylvester Jusu is a volunteer who works with the Red Cross burial team in Sierra Leone.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 6:34 pm

Saidu Kanneh was given a hero's welcome last week when he walked into a community meeting about Ebola in a tiny village of mud huts in the Kissi Kama region of Sierra Leone. Kanneh was diagnosed with Ebola early in July, was treated for 12 days in a Doctors Without Borders hospital and overcame the disease.

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Africa
8:37 am
Sun July 20, 2014

Facility Sets Up Extreme Precautions To Treat Ebola Patients

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 10:08 am

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Arun Rath. The worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded continues to spread in West Africa. And medical workers in Sierra Leone have responded by expanding an extraordinary field hospital. It opened less than a month ago, but it now has the largest Ebola isolation unit ever built, with 64 beds. NPR's Jason Beaubien visited and describes for us the infection control measures that go into treating this highly contagious disease.

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Global Health
2:09 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

To Combat Ebola Outbreak, Health Officials Call For 'Drastic' Action

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 4:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Global Health
2:32 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

As Death Count Rises, Health Officials Work To Stem Ebola's Spread

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 5:08 pm

The World Health Organization is reporting that the Ebola virus has yet to be contained in West Africa. It's one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in decades — with over 500 cases, some 330 of which ended in death.

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

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Sports
2:04 pm
Sun June 8, 2014

The World Cup Reminds Us That All The World's A Soccer Field

Children play soccer in the village of Limon in the Peten region of northern Guatemala.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Sun June 8, 2014 4:34 pm

The global reach of soccer never ceases to amaze me. I travel all over the world, sometimes to incredibly remote areas. More often than not, when I get there, somebody is kicking around a soccer ball.

It doesn't matter if it's Asia or Africa or Central America. Kids make a goal out of a couple of backpacks, throw out a ball and the game is on. The "ball" could be a knotted towel or a tennis ball or a tattered leather shell that's barely holding air.

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Shots - Health News
2:39 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Thriving Towns In East Africa Are Good News For A Parasitic Worm

Fishermen drag a net in Lake Malawi in 2012. About the size of New Jersey, the lake is home to hundreds of fish species and is considered one of the most biologically diverse lakes in the world.
Ding Haitao Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 4:17 pm

People trying to grow food and support their families on the shores of Lake Malawi are not only causing serious environmental problems, they're also causing a surge in a debilitating disease.

Thriving towns along the lake are changing the ecosystem in ways that are allowing a parasitic worm to flourish, researchers reported last week in the journal Trends in Parasitology.

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News
2:37 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

CIA Announces Plans To End Fake Vaccination Programs

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 6:16 pm

The White House announced that the CIA will stop using fake vaccination programs to further its spy operations. The decision comes after leaders from U.S. public health schools brought the practice to light.

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

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
3:43 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

How U.S. Hospitals Are Planning To Stop The Deadly MERS Virus

Muslim pilgrims wear masks to prevent infection from the Middle East respiratory syndrome in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday.
Hasan Jamali AP

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 7:09 am

In the past month, Middle East respiratory syndrome has morphed from a little-known disease in the Arabian Peninsula to a major global health concern, with more than 300 cases in Saudi Arabia in April, 54 of them fatal.

Two cases have been reported in the U.S. as well — one in Indiana and one in Florida. Both men had worked in Saudi Arabia hospitals. So far, neither has spread the respiratory disease to others.

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Shots - Health News
2:38 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Gene Sequencing Could One Day Make Malaria Easier To Treat

A health official takes a blood sample from a child's finger for a malaria test at a clinic in Bong Ti Lang village on the Thai-Myanmar border.
Narong Sangnak EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 12:30 pm

Malaria has proved one of the hardest diseases on the planet to treat. The World Health Organization estimates there are nearly 200 million cases each year, and the parasitic infection is blamed for some 700,000 deaths annually.

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Shots - Health News
4:35 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

The Comeback Of Polio Is A Public Health Emergency

On the outskirts of Islamabad, a Pakistani health worker vaccinates an Afghan refugee against polio.
Muhammed Muheisen AP

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 2:25 pm

It is, says the World Health Organization, "an extraordinary event." Polio is spreading to a degree that constitutes a public health emergency.

The global drive to wipe out the virus had driven the number of polio cases down from 300,000 in the late 1980s to just 417 cases last year. The World Health Organization has set a goal of wiping out polio by 2018.

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Global Health
2:02 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

To Fight Polio Outbreaks, WHO Lays Down New Rules

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 7:31 am

The World Health Organization is warning that recent outbreaks of polio in the Middle East, Africa and Asia mark a setback to the decades-long effort to eradicate the disease. In response, the WHO has declared a world health emergency. It's asking Syria, Pakistan and Cameroon — current polio hot spots — to require all travelers leaving those countries to show proof of vaccination.

Shots - Health News
1:30 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Mysterious Kidney Disease Slays Farmworkers In Central America

Loved ones express their grief at the burial of Ramon Romero Ramirez in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, January 2013. The 36-year-old died of chronic kidney disease after working in the sugar cane fields for 12 years. Ramirez is part of a steady procession of deaths among cane workers.
Ed Kashi VII

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 5:32 am

Manuel Antonio Tejarino used to be a lean, fit field hand. During the sugar cane harvest, he'd swing a machete for hours, hacking at the thick, towering stalks.

Now Tejarino is slumped in a faded, cloth deck chair outside his sister's house on the outskirts of Chichigalpa, Nicaragua.

Tejarino's kidneys are failing. He's grown gaunt. His arms droop by his side. In the tropical midday heat, he alternates between wiping sweat off his brow and pulling a sweatshirt up over his bare chest.

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