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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Shots - Health News
1:16 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

At Polio's Epicenter, Vaccinators Battle Chaos And Indifference

Kano, in northern Nigeria, has been called the "epicenter" of the current polio outbreak. This part of Nigeria is the only place in the world where polio cases are increasing.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 4:16 pm

Polio was eliminated from the Western Hemisphere in the early 1990s. It was stamped out in Europe a few years later. And now, even the Congo and Somalia are polio free.

But in Africa's largest oil-producing nation, Nigeria, polio has been a difficult, contentious foe.

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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Wiping Out Polio: How The U.S. Snuffed Out A Killer

On April 12, 1955, Dr. Jonas Salk and his research team at the University of Pittsburgh released the first successful vaccine for polio. In 1979, the U.S. reported its last case of the paralyzing virus.
Courtesy of Images from the History of Medicine (NLM).

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 2:55 pm

Sixty years ago, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the U.S.

As the weather warmed up each year, panic over polio intensified. Late summer was dubbed "polio season." Public swimming pools were shut down. Movie theaters urged patrons not to sit too close together to avoid spreading the disease. Insurance companies started selling polio insurance for newborns.

The fear was well grounded. By the 1950s, polio had become one of the most serious communicable diseases among children in the United States.

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The Two-Way
5:57 am
Sat October 6, 2012

Fallout From Financial Crisis: Thousands Of Nigerian Kids Poisoned By Lead

Women and their children wait for medication and instructions on how to use it at the clinic in Dareta, Nigeria. Treating children with high levels of lead is a painstaking process that works only if their environment at home is free from lead.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Sat October 6, 2012 8:27 pm

Gold in general has great PR. It's slick, it's hip, it's bling. But in a remote corner of West Africa, it's killing children.

Lead from illegal gold mines in northwestern Nigeria has sparked what Doctors Without Borders has called the worst case of environmental lead poisoning in years.

The catastrophe is part of the fallout from the collapse of the U.S. housing market.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:58 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

In Nigerian Gold Rush, Lead Poisons Thousands Of Children

Women and their children wait for medication and instructions on how to use it at the clinic in Dareta, Nigeria. Treating children with high levels of lead is a painstaking process that works only if their environment at home is free from lead.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 3:26 pm

Across a swath of northern Nigeria, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding, as lead from illegal gold mines sickens thousands of children.

More than 400 kids have died, and many more have been mentally stunted for life.

Doctors Without Borders, which has set up clinics to treat the children, is calling it one of the worst cases of environmental lead poisoning in recent history.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:09 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

On The Road: Reporting On Lead Poisoning In Nigeria

Four-wheel drive is no match for the mud on the road to a gold mine in northern Nigeria.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 4:20 pm

If you want to witness the health consequences of unsafe gold mining in northwestern Nigeria, the first thing you have to do is get to the mines

There's a crisis of severe lead poisoning near the mines that's killed hundreds of children and made thousands more sick.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:57 am
Mon September 24, 2012

South African Children's Hospital Closed Under Apartheid To Reopen

The Durban Children's hospital opened in 1931, as a facility for all races, but tensions during the apartheid era forced it to close in the 1980s.
Courtesy of KwaZulu-Natal Children's Hospital

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 9:08 am

A large children's hospital in Durban, South Africa, is being rebuilt two decades after it closed owing to apartheid. It opened in 1931 as a facility for all races, but racial tensions in the 1980s forced its closure.

Now with Durban and the surrounding province of KwaZulu-Natal extremely hard hit by AIDS and tuberculosis, local leaders are hopeful they can begin reopening the hospital early in 2013.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:55 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Botswana Doctors Stop Cervical Cancer With A Vinegar Swab

Doreen Ramogola-Masire, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Botswana, hopes that a simple, quick screen for cervical cancer with vinegar will catch the disease early and save women's lives.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 1:56 pm

In the U.S., the pap smear has become a routine part of women's health care, and it's dramatically reduced cervical cancer deaths. But in Africa and other impoverished regions, few women get pap smears because the countries lack the laboratories and other resources necessary to offer them.

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Shots - Health Blog
9:46 am
Thu August 30, 2012

A Troubling Rise In Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

A doctor examines chest X-rays at a tuberculosis clinic in Gugulethu, Cape Town, South Africa in late 2007. The number of TB cases that don't respond to both first- and second-line medications is rising worldwide.
Karin Schermbrucker AP

Cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis are increasing around the globe, and at a faster rate than previously thought. And if that weren't enough, TB is quickly building resistance to more and more of the drugs commonly used to fight it.

The troubling picture emerged in a study just published in The Lancet.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:34 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Amid An AIDS Epidemic, South Africa Battles Another Foe: Tuberculosis

A mobile clinic set up to test students for HIV is parked near Madwaleni High School in Mtubatuba, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on March 8, 2011. Parts of the South African province have HIV rates that are more than twice the national average.
Stephane de Sakutin AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 6:24 pm

The province of KwaZulu-Natal has emerged as the epicenter of South Africa's HIV epidemic. South Africa already has more people infected with HIV than any other country in the world, but parts of KwaZulu-Natal have HIV rates that are more than twice the national average.

Now in addition to HIV and AIDS, the province is also dealing with a major tuberculosis epidemic.

In the northeastern part of KwaZulu-Natal, dusty dirt tracks wind through pastures and fields of sugar cane. The hillsides are dotted with small huts made of cinder blocks and field stones.

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Shots - Health Blog
8:12 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Prevention Programs Curb New HIV Infections In South Africa

Health care workers in South Africa speak to residents during a door-to-door AIDS awareness campaign, part of a series of prevention efforts that has helped lower the country's HIV infection rate.
Mujahid Safodien Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 2:03 pm

The statistics on HIV and AIDS in South Africa are daunting.

In a country of 50 million people, more than 5.5 million people are living with HIV and almost 2 million people are on HIV drug treatment. Each year, roughly 300,000 more South Africans are infected with HIV, and half a million come down with tuberculosis.

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