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.

After twice being declared Ebola-free, Liberia is reporting new cases of the disease.

The first case that was confirmed, according to the World Health Organization, was a 10-year-old boy in the capital, Monrovia. He fell ill on Nov. 14, was hospitalized a few days later and confirmed as having Ebola Thursday.

It's still unclear how the boy became infected, says WHO's special representative on Ebola, Bruce Aylward.

Colistin is the antibiotic that doctors use as a last resort to wipe out dangerous bacteria.

"It's really been kept as the last drug in the locker when all else has failed," says Dr. Jim Spencer, a senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

The Middle East is bursting at the seams from the Syrian refugee crisis. When I was in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley a few months ago, tension was mounting between the locals and the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who've flooded into the area. Officials in one town were threatening to evict hundreds of Syrians living in a squalid camp in a muddy lot. Schools have been overwhelmed by Syrian students.

Earlier this week, we went on a speed date — yes, a real speed date — with some of the most talented change-makers from the developing world.

The oral polio vaccine may go down in history as one of the most powerful public health tools of modern times. Developed by Albert Sabin in 1961, the vaccine is cheap, easy to administer and has pushed polio to the brink of extinction.

The joke is that if you can "count to two" you can vaccinate kids against polio. That's because all it takes is squeezing two drops of the vaccine into a child's mouth.

Lea Hatouni is like a lot of other teenagers around the world. She likes music and hanging out with her friends. Her favorite band is the British rock band Coldplay. When she has free time she stops by the snack shop where her brother, Kenny works. "I talk to Kenny. We laugh and put on music. We start to dance and doing crazy stuff," she laughs.

And she loves to paint her fingernails her favorite color-- dark blue.

Like any teen, she has big dreams.

This week, the carpeted halls of the Philadelphia Marriott echoed with a patois of West African French, Liverpudlian English and Brazilian Portuguese as researchers from around the globe converged for the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH).

The convention covers a wide range of tropical diseases, but malaria got the lion's share of attention.

Tuberculosis is now killing more people each year than HIV, according to new data from the World Health Organization.

WHO estimates there were almost 10 million new cases of TB last year; the disease caused 1.5 million deaths. By comparison, 1.2 million lives were claimed by HIV.

That makes TB the No. 1 infectious killer.

Polio is in its final days.

The disease that once paralyzed hundreds of thousands of kids a year around the globe is now down to just a few dozen cases this year. "We are aiming to halt all transmission of wild polio virus next year," says Peter Crowley, the head of UNICEF's global efforts against polio.

If polio is stopped, it will be only the second human disease to be eliminated. Smallpox was the first — the last case was in 1977.

"I really want to go back to school," says 15-year-old Fatmeh, "because work, work, work. ... Life isn't only about work."

But that's what her life is about right now.

Fatmeh used to be a top student at her school in Syria. Now she spends her days working in agricultural fields in the fertile Beqaa Valley, picking vegetables, plucking weeds and tending crops. And when the foreman thinks that she and the other kids in the fields aren't working hard enough, he hits them with a black plastic pipe.

Before: Her Typical Teenage Life

A Scottish nurse who recovered from Ebola in January has been medevaced from Glasgow to London in a Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane specially equipped for infection control.

Doctors say Pauline Cafferkey is suffering "an unusual late complication" from her previous Ebola infection. They note that "Pauline previously had the Ebola virus and this is therefore not a new infection."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Pope Francis, addressing the U.N. General Assembly today, urged international cooperation not only to solve humanity's largest problems but to save humanity itself.

Quoting a speech to the U.N. by his predecessor Pope Paul VI in 1965, Francis said of the world today: "The real danger comes from man...."

He stressed that humans have a moral duty to protect the earth, saying that it is the creation of God and humans don't have the authority to abuse or destroy it.

At the United Nations General Assembly this weekend in New York, U.N. member states are set to adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals. The goals are meant to guide development priorities around the globe over the next 15 years. Critics and supporters alike are declaring them to be highly ambitious — maybe even too ambitious.

The SDGs, as they've come to be called in humanitarian lingo, replace the Millennium Development Goals, which were adopted in 2000 and expire this year.

The oil-rich West African nation of Angola has a dubious distinction. Its child mortality rate is the world's worst: 157 kids out of every 1,000 die before their 5th birthday. By comparison the child mortality rate in the U.S. is 7 deaths per 1,000. In Europe it's between 3 and 4.

On the same week that President Robert Mugabe made it clear that goats are not welcome in the streets of Zimbabwe's capital, a herd of goats got a hero's welcome in the capital of the free world.

Today there are 7.3 billion people on planet Earth, according to the United Nations.

If you think that's a lot ... just wait.

A new U.N. report forecasts the biggest growth spurt in history. By the year 2030, the report predicts, Earth's population is expected to jump to 8.5 billion. And by the end of the century, the projection is 11.2 billion. That's about 6 percent higher than earlier forecasts.

Malaria sickens tens of millions each year and kills roughly 500,000, mainly in Africa. A vaccine has been seen as the holy grail in global efforts against the disease.

Don't kiss your chickens!

That's the message from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is blaming a salmonella outbreak on backyard chicken owners being overly affectionate with their flocks.

The CDC says more than 180 people have come down with salmonella across the U.S. this year from contact with backyard poultry. Thirty-three of them became so sick they required hospitalization.

Over the last decade, economic growth lifted almost a billion people around the world out of extreme poverty. Unfortunately, it didn't lift them very far.

A rising economic tide has been concentrated in just a few regions of the world, and it's failed to raise many people into the middle class.

By U.S. standards, most of the world remains terribly poor.

Nigeria is on the verge of being polio-free. And that would mean that for the first time ever there's no ongoing polio transmission on the African continent.

As South Koreans continue to struggle with the worst outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, ever recorded outside the Middle East, their comrades to the north say, "We've got a cure for that!"

The World Health Organization says there's no known cure or vaccine for MERS, but state-run media in Pyongyang reports a wonder drug called Kumdang-2 will do the trick. The report makes no mention of whether Pyongyang is going to offer this miracle compound to its neighbor to the south. Or as the news agency puts it: "the Korean puppet authorities" in Seoul.

Ebola has dug in its heels.

Despite dramatic drops in the overall numbers of reported cases, Sierra Leone and Guinea are still struggling to stop the deadly disease.

Case tallies in both countries have dipped towards zero in the past few months, only to bounce back up. Sierra Leone reported 14 new cases this week and Guinea counted 10.

Blame it on the camels.

When scientists first detected Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012, the big question was: Where is this virus coming from?

For several years, scientists hunted the deadly virus across the Arabian Peninsula, and eventually they found at least one source — dromedary camels.

Where did the money go? An NPR and ProPublica investigation has raised troubling questions about what happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by the American Red Cross for earthquake relief in Haiti.

Goats and Soda posed a few questions to NPR correspondent Laura Sullivan about her work on this investigation.

What made you decide to look into the American Red Cross's earthquake recovery spending in Haiti?

Should the world be in a panic about MERS?

That's the global health question of the hour. South Korea is trying to get control of an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome. Officials have now confirmed 30 cases of the disease and two deaths. One of the patients traveled to China and remains hospitalized there. More than 1,000 people are now under quarantine in Hong Kong, China and South Korea as a result of the outbreak.

There's fear that MERS could be the next SARS, the respiratory virus that swept through the region in 2003, claiming hundreds of lives.

A man died of a hemorrhagic fever in New Jersey this week. This by itself is fairly unusual in the Garden State. Making the case even more odd was that the man was being monitored for Ebola by New Jersey health officials, and the case should have been caught earlier.

The events expose a hole in a public health system meant to track potential Ebola cases.

The 55-year-old New Jersey resident worked in the mining industry and traveled frequently to West Africa. Two weeks ago he landed at JFK International Airport after a flight from Liberia.

The world is losing some of the most powerful tools in modern medicine. Antibiotics are becoming less and less effective at fighting infections. The problem has gotten so bad that some doctors are starting to ponder a "post-antibiotic world."

Common infections that have been easily treatable for decades could become deadly if the current growth of antimicrobial resistance continues.

Nearly 3,000 delegates from around the world are gathering this week in one of the most expensive cities in Europe to debate the fate of the World Health Organization.

There's one main question on the table: Will the WHO be given the power and money it needs to be the world's leading health agency, or will it plod forward in its current state — as a weak, bureaucratic agency of the U.N. known more for providing advice than taking action.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is not only airborne and lethal; it's one of the most difficult diseases in the world to cure.

In Peru, 35-year-old Jenny Tenorio Gallegos wheezes even when she's sitting still. That's because of the damage tuberculosis has done to her lungs. The antibiotics she's taking to treat extensively drug-resistant TB nauseate her, give her headaches, leave her exhausted and are destroying her hearing.

"At times I don't hear well," she says. "You have to speak loud for me to be able to understand."