Jason Beaubien

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Mexico City Correspondent. In his current job, he covers Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.

Beaubien joined NPR's Foreign Desk in 2002 after volunteering to cover a coup attempt in the Ivory Coast. Over the next four years, Beaubien worked throughout sub-Saharan Africa, visiting 27 countries on the continent. He reported on poverty on the world's poorest continent, HIV in the epicenter of the epidemic, all-night acapella contests in South Africa, Afro-pop stars in Nigeria and a trial of white mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea. He covered the famines and wars of Africa, but also its 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.

From Mexico City he's 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, he 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.

He grew up in Maine, started his radio career as an intern at KQED-FM in San Francisco and worked at WBUR in Boston before joining NPR.

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5:04pm

Mon July 28, 2014
Goats and Soda

Taliban In Pakistan Derail World Polio Eradication

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 10:40 am

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

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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3:17pm

Tue July 22, 2014
Goats and Soda

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

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 8:17 pm

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

"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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4:45am

Tue July 22, 2014
Goats and Soda

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

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 8:34 pm

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

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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10:37am

Sun July 20, 2014
Africa

Facility Sets Up Extreme Precautions To Treat Ebola Patients

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 12:08 pm

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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4:34pm

Thu July 17, 2014
Africa

Ebola Wreaks Economic Woe In West Africa

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 11:51 am

A dog sleeps in a derelict building in central Kailahun, where the streets are unusually empty.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

In eastern Sierra Leone, health officials have set up the world's largest treatment for the Ebola virus. It's getting new patients every day, in an outbreak that's killed over 600 people in West Africa. Businesses in the area are suffering, and people are finding it difficult to earn a living.

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4:09pm

Thu July 3, 2014
Global Health

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

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 6:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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4:32pm

Wed June 18, 2014
Global Health

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

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 7:08 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/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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4:56pm

Wed May 28, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 6:17 pm

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

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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4:57pm

Tue May 20, 2014
News

CIA Announces Plans To End Fake Vaccination Programs

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 8:16 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/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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5:45pm

Wed May 14, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 9:09 am

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

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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4:38pm

Tue May 13, 2014
Shots - Health News

Gene Sequencing Could One Day Make Malaria Easier To Treat

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 2:30 pm

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

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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6:09pm

Mon May 5, 2014
Shots - Health News

The Comeback Of Polio Is A Public Health Emergency

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 4:25 pm

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

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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4:02pm

Mon May 5, 2014
Global Health

To Fight Polio Outbreaks, WHO Lays Down New Rules

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 9:31 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.

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3:30am

Wed April 30, 2014
Shots - Health News

Mysterious Kidney Disease Slays Farmworkers In Central America

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 7:32 am

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

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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6:19pm

Thu April 24, 2014
Shots - Health News

Why The U.S. Is Worried About A Deadly Middle Eastern Virus

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 7:52 am

Fearful of catching the MERS virus, workers wear masks during a soccer match on April 22 at King Fahad stadium in Riyadh.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

UPDATE at 4:17 p.m. Friday: Saudi Arabia has confirmed 313 cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, including 92 deaths, the Ministry of Health said Friday. Of note, one of the 14 new patients caught the virus while working as a hospital receptionist.

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8:12am

Sat April 19, 2014
Africa

Polio Threatens To Spread Through Central Africa

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 11:46 am

Transcript

WADE GOODWYN, HOST:

In Central Africa, there are new fears that polio is on the move. Polio cases in Cameroon have spread to the tiny country of Equatorial Guinea, and there's concern it could spread even further in the region. Significant progress against polio has been made in much of the world this year. But global efforts to eradicate the virus could face a setback if polio gets a foothold in central Africa. Here's NPR's Jason Beaubien.

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3:29am

Thu April 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

Polio Hits Equatorial Guinea, Threatens Central Africa

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 7:41 am

A child receives a polio vaccine Sunday in Kano, Nigeria. The country is the primary source of the virus in Africa but appears to be making progress against the disease; the current outbreak in Cameroon that has spread to Equatorial Guinea came by way of Chad, not Nigeria.
Sunday Alamba AP

Health officials are worried.

After being free of polio for nearly 15 years, Equatorial Guinea has reported two cases of the disease.

The children paralyzed are in two distant parts of the country. So the virus may have spread widely across the small nation.

The outbreak is dangerous, in part, because Equatorial Guinea has the worst polio vaccination rate in the world: 39 percent. Even Somalia, teetering on the brink of anarchy, vaccinates 47 percent of its children.

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12:05pm

Tue April 8, 2014
Shots - Health News

Global Aid For Health Hits Record High As Funding Sources Shift

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 3:58 pm

A pregnant Somali woman gets a tetanus shot at a clinic in Mogadishu in 2013. The vaccination initiative was launched by the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Carl de Souza AFP/Getty Images

International development aid has hit an all-time high, despite some nations dramatically slashing their foreign assistance budgets. As patterns of international assistance shift, an increasing amount of money is being invested in improving health in the developing world.

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4:31pm

Wed March 19, 2014
Shots - Health News

To Save Her Husband's Life, A Woman Fights For Access To TB Drugs

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:13 pm

Oxana and Pavel Rucsineanu fell in love while living at a tuberculosis ward in Balti, Moldova.
Jason Beaubien NPR

One year ago Pavel Rucsineanu was running out of options.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis was ravaging his lungs. And the disease had evolved into an incurable form, doctors said.

It's like an "infectious cancer," Dr. Tetru Alexandriuc said at the time. "We have no other medicines" to treat Pavel, the doctor added. Although he wouldn't say it, the doctor expected TB would kill Pavel.

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6:08pm

Thu February 13, 2014
Shots - Health News

Stopping Microbes Not Missiles: U.S. Plans For Next Global Threat

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 7:58 pm

Hannah Rood, 3, receives an H1N1 vaccine at a clinic in San Pablo, California, during the 2009 swine flu epidemic.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Spot the next plague before it arrives. Predict the next swine flu outbreak before it makes headlines. Even detect a biological weapon before it's launched.

These are the goals of an ambitious initiative, launched Thursday, to build a worldwide surveillance system for infectious diseases.

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7:08pm

Tue February 4, 2014
Shots - Health News

Cancer Cases Rising At An Alarming Rate Worldwide

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 8:20 am

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men in the West, while lung and liver cancers are the top problems in Asia.
Courtesy of the World Health Organization

As countries modernize around the world, they're increasingly being hit with one of the curses of wealth: cancer.

There are about 14 million new cancer cases globally each year, the World Health Organization reported Monday. And the trend is only getting worse.

The global burden of cancer will grow by 70 percent over the next two decades, the WHO predicts, with an estimated 22 million new cases and 13 million deaths each year by 2032.

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12:24pm

Thu January 30, 2014
Shots - Health News

Access To Toilets And Books Improves Life For Kids Across The Globe

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 12:29 pm

Palestinian girls read the Koran at a camp in Gaza City, June 2012. In poor countries, boys are 20 percent more likely than girls to enroll in school, UNICEF says.
Mahmud Hams AFP/Getty Images

The world is in the midst of a porcelain revolution.

Nearly 2 billion people have gained access to clean toilets, or at least a decent outhouse, since 1990, the nonprofit UNICEF reports Thursday.

That rise in sanitation has led to big health improvements, the agency says, because contaminated drinking water is still a major cause of disease and death for children.

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8:15am

Fri January 3, 2014
Shots - Health News

Overweight People In Developing World Outnumber Those In Rich Countries

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 8:06 am

Government workers exercise at their office in Mexico City, August 2013. To counter the obesity epidemic, the city requires all government employees to do at least 20 minutes of exercise each day.
Tomas Bravo Reuters /Landov

People are getting fatter around the world. And the problem is growing most rapidly in developing countries, researchers reported Friday.

"Over the last 30 years, the number of people who are overweight and obese in the developing world has tripled," says Steve Wiggins, of the Overseas Development Institute in London.

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3:24am

Fri January 3, 2014
Shots - Health News

Why Ending Malaria May Be More About Backhoes Than Bed Nets

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 8:16 am

Yonta, 6, rests with her brother Leakhena, 4 months, under a mosquito bed net in the Pailin province of Cambodia, where deaths from malaria have decreased sharply in the past two decades.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

Wiping out malaria is a top goal for many leaders in global health.

Fewer people are dying now from the mosquito-borne disease than at any other time in history. "And there's a very, very strong belief now that malaria can be eliminated," says Joy Phumaphi, who chairs the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.

But when you look at the overall numbers on malaria, eradication almost seems like a pipe dream.

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4:02pm

Wed January 1, 2014
Shots - Health News

Simple, Cheap Health Remedies Cut Child Mortality In Ethiopia

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 12:48 pm

Almaz Acha sits with her baby Alentse at her home in the rural community of Sadoye, in southern Ethiopia. Families in rural communities, like this one, have benefited from Ethiopia's health extension program.
Julien Behal PA Photos /Landov

Poor countries are starting to realize something that richer ones sometimes forget: Basic, inexpensive measures can have dramatic impacts on the health of a country. And they can save thousands of lives.

Take, for instance, the situation in Ethiopia.

The country used to have one of the highest rates of child mortality in the world.

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5:00am

Sat December 28, 2013
Parallels

Rushing Toward Chaos: Covering The Aftermath Of Typhoon Haiyan

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 7:00 pm

A boy stands in the ruins of the leveled a neighborhood in Tacloban. Food and water supplies were almost nonexsistent in the days immediately after the storm.
David Gilkey NPR

It felt like a dream.

The Marines kept flying over us all night long. Their hulking C-130 cargo planes rattled the tarp we'd jerry-rigged above our heads. NPR photographer David Gilkey and I were lying in sleeping bags next to the runway of the destroyed Tacloban airport. We'd arrived a few hours earlier in the back of one of those military aircraft. Now we were just waiting for daybreak.

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8:23am

Sun December 15, 2013
Global Health

They Shot For Zero, But Couldn't Squash Polio In 2013

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 2:43 pm

A polio worker vaccinates a child in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, in October.
Arshad Arbab EPA/Landov

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. Numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we're living in, right now. Over the next two weeks, you'll hear the stories behind numbers, ranging from zero to 1 trillion.

The lowest number of polio cases ever recorded in the world during one year was 223. And 2013 was on track for an even lower number.

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6:36pm

Thu December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 11:57 am

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, one of the world's most respected statesmen, died Thursday at 95.
Denis Farrell AP

Nelson Mandela, who was born in a country that viewed him as a second-class citizen, died Thursday as one of the most respected statesmen in the world. He was 95.

President Jacob Zuma announced the death in a televised speech.

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4:52pm

Wed November 20, 2013
Parallels

A Chronic Problem In Disaster Zones: No Fuel

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 7:00 pm

Filipino men stand in line to fill containers with gas in Tacloban, Philippines, on Sunday. The area experienced widespread gas shortages in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
David Gilkey NPR

In the wake of any natural disaster, there are almost always shortages of fuel. Even in the United States, gas stations shut down during blackouts because there's no electricity to run their pumps.

It was no different in the Philippines, where practically no fuel was available after Typhoon Haiyan struck. Aid agencies said the lack of gasoline was a major impediment to relief efforts.

One small American nonprofit called the Fuel Relief Fund is trying to change that.

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3:31am

Mon November 18, 2013
Typhoon Haiyan Devastates The Philippines

Catholics In Philippines Turn To Church To Cope With Typhoon

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 5:03 pm

A Filipino woman prays at morning Mass at Santo Nino church, which was damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, on Sunday.
David Gilkey NPR

Across the ravaged center of the Philippines on Sunday, people flocked to Mass, often in churches that had been severely damaged or destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan.

In many villages in Leyte province, the only structures that survived the storm were churches. Spires and statues of angels look out over fields of smashed houses and twisted typhoon debris.

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