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 issues across the world. He's covered the plight of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, mass cataract surgeries in Ethiopia, 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 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.

Cameron Simmons is far more familiar with dengue than he would like to be.

"I've had dengue. My family's had dengue. It's a miserable, miserable experience," he says. "It's not one I'd ever want to repeat or have anyone else experience."

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A new vaccine to prevent dengue may be on the horizon. And health officials say it's desperately needed.

The World Health Organization this year listed dengue as one of the top 10 threats to global health.

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It seemed like a fairy tale. At the age of 18, Fatou Jallow won a beauty pageant sponsored by the Gambian president and run by the Ministry of Education's Gender Department. She was showered with gifts—clothes, cash, furniture for her parent's house, even a new iPhone. She was invited to public events with president Yahya Jammeh — and to meet with him privately at his residence. A black government Jeep would pick her up from her house, which didn't have running water, and take her to the presidential palace.

In the incredibly ambitious, multibillion-dollar effort to wipe polio off the face of the planet, there's currently good news and bad news.

The good news, says Michel Zaffran, who runs the World Health Organization's global polio eradication program, is that there's hardly any polio left.

"When we started back in 1988," Zaffran says, "we had cases in 125 countries and 300,000 cases every year."

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In the U.S., the opioid crisis is about too many opioids. In some other parts of the world, the opioid problem is about the exact opposite — a lack of access to powerful pain management drugs. As pharmaceutical companies are being sued in the U.S. for flooding the market with opioids, doctors in West Africa say they can't even get hold of those painkillers.

When prescribed appropriately, opioids can be vital tools in hospitals and clinics. The drugs make patients more comfortable and can speed recovery.

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In the capital city of the Bahamas, Nassau, authorities are trying to find beds - enough beds for thousands of people who were forced to evacuate because of Hurricane Dorian. They're struggling to accommodate so many who have been left with so little.

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It's been difficult to report on the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, in particular, the Abaco Islands, because journalists just couldn't get there to see what was going on firsthand. Now NPR's team is there.

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"This is not a happy anniversary," said Yap Boum, the regional representative for Epicentre Africa, the research arm of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Malaria drugs are failing at an "alarming" rate in Southeast Asia as drug-resistant strains of the malaria parasite emerge.

It sounded like such a good idea at the time.

The year was 2005. Global oil prices were climbing dramatically. Countries in the Caribbean were facing major fuel shortages. Venezuela, one of the world's largest producers of crude, offered to ease the staggering fuel costs faced by its neighbors.

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The appearance of Ebola in Uganda prompted the World Health Organization to hold a special meeting today. The question before them - does the spread of Ebola beyond the Democratic Republic of Congo constitute an international health emergency?

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The measles outbreak got so bad in Manila, Philippines, that San Lazaro Hospital had to set up tents in the parking lot, the courtyard and even the landing at the top of the stairs outside the pediatric ward to house patients.

"This ward would only accommodate 50 patients," says Dr. Ferdinand de Guzman, the head of family medicine at the hospital. "But at the height of the outbreak, [there were] 300 patients per ward."

The price of pharmaceuticals around the world can vary dramatically depending on who's paying for the drugs and where those patients happen to live.

Take the pneumonia vaccine. Doctors Without Borders just struck a deal on it for refugee children in Greece. The aid group will pay $9 per immunization for a drug with a list price of $540. In local Greek pharmacies, the vaccine costs $168. France pays $189 for the inoculation while the far less wealthy nation of Lebanon pays $243 for it, according to the group. In India you can get it for roughly $60.

At a small health clinic in the Kutupalong refugee camps in Bangladesh, Somadu Katu is clutching her 3 ½-year-old son, Yassin.

Yassin is wailing. He's running a fever and there are small red dots all over his body. Katu is terrified.

"I'm scared because my baby is very young so he is not able to tolerate the pain," Katu says.

Katu says her son started getting sick about four days earlier. At first, the 35-year-old Rohingya mom thought it was just a common cold. And then the menacing rash emerged.

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Venezuela's once impressive medical system has crumbled dramatically. But it's hard to know exactly how bad things are — because the Ministry of Health stopped releasing national health data.

"There has been a strict secrecy policy in public institutions in Venezuela ... since 2012," says Jenny García, a demographer from Venezuela now living in Paris. The government hasn't wanted to release health statistics that are simply going to make it look bad, García says.

Schistosomiasis is listed as a "neglected" tropical disease by the World Health Organization — one of those diseases that's been overlooked by modern medicine.

It mainly hits poor people in poor countries — and it hits a lot of them, up to 200 million a year. There are only a few drugs available to treat it. There are no designer drugs being cooked up in a lab in Europe for schistosomiasis. Doctoral students rarely pen their thesis on this disease.

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Gregg Gonsalves took a wild, meandering path to the Ivory Tower. His route to becoming a professor at Yale started in street protests and spanned the globe.

On Thursday he was honored with a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.

Gonsalves is one of this year's MacArthur "geniuses." The award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation comes with a $625,000 no-strings-attached stipend.

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The latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo comes just a week after the last outbreak there was declared over. Making things worse for Congolese health officials, this new cluster of Ebola cases is in the volatile North Kivu province, where heavily armed militants have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

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