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.

A few years ago in Zambia, hippos were dropping dead by the dozens. Soon after the hippos fell ill, people started getting sick, too.

Between August and September of 2011, at least 85 hippos died in a game management area along the South Luangwa River near the border with Malawi. It turns out the hippos were the victims of anthrax, the same bacteria used in a series of letter attacks that killed five people in the weeks after Sept. 11. The anthrax outbreaks in hippos and humans in Zambia however, weren't part of some sinister terrorist plot. Instead, they were driven by hunger.

For the first time, the number of children paralyzed by mutant strains of the polio vaccine are greater than the number of children paralyzed by polio itself.

So far in 2017, there have been only six cases of "wild" polio reported anywhere in the world. By "wild," public health officials mean the disease caused by polio virus found naturally in the environment.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

War-torn Yemen is now being convulsed by cholera.

Over the past six weeks, more than 124,000 suspected cholera cases have been reported. To put this in perspective, there were only 172,000 cases reported globally to the World Health Organization for all of 2015. To be fair, many cholera cases go unreported each year, but by any standard the current outbreak in Yemen is huge.

One of President Trump's boldest, most ambitious proposals on the campaign trail was to build a wall along the Southern border and get Mexico to pay for it. Amid the tumult of Trump's first few months in office, the border wall hasn't gotten as much attention as some other things. But new legislation has been introduced in Congress to help fund it.

It's called the Border Wall Funding Act of 2017, introduced on March 30 by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala.

Health officials from more than 180 countries meeting in Geneva on Tuesday have elected a new leader for the World Health Organization.

A former health minister from Ethiopia takes over an agency that's struggled recently to find the funding and exert the political leadership it needs to tackle the world's health problems.

The White House has nominated Mark Andrew Green to what could be one the toughest jobs in the Trump administration.

The former Republican congressman from Wisconsin has been tapped to run USAID — the U.S. Agency for International Development. If confirmed, the 56-year-old Green will take over USAID at a time when global humanitarian crises are mounting. And he'll have to answer to a president who's been openly hostile to handing out American taxpayer dollars abroad.

Across the development world, Green's nomination has been widely praised.

Cholera can kill a person in a matter of hours.

It's a severe gastrointestinal disease that can trigger so much diarrhea and vomiting that patients can rapidly become dehydrated. They lose so much fluid that their internal organs shut down.

Drug resistant tuberculosis is expected to increase globally over the next two decades.

New research predicts a steady rise in TB cases that can't be cured with conventional, first-line antibiotics in four countries.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast that these complicated — and potentially deadly — cases of TB will become far more common in Russia, India, the Philippines and South Africa by the year 2040.

Malaria transmission in the United States was eliminated in the early 1950s through the use of insecticides, drainage ditches and the incredible power of window screens.

But the mosquito-borne disease has staged a comeback in American hospitals as travelers return from parts of the world where malaria runs rampant. In the early 1970s there only a couple hundred malaria cases reported in the entire U.S. but that number has steadily increased in recent years.

Anais Martinez is on the hunt in Mexico City's Merced Market, a sprawling covered bazaar brimming with delicacies. "So this is the deep-fried tamale!" she says with delight, as if she'd just found a fine mushroom specimen deep in a forest.

The prized tamales are wrapped in corn husks and piled next to a bubbling cauldron of oil.

Let's say you'd like to go for a run in Mexico City.

Dr. Tonatiuh Barrientos, an epidemiologist with Mexico's National Institute of Public Health, thinks that's a good idea — in theory. An expert on diabetes, he'd like to see more people in the Mexican capital get out and exercise to combat the disease.

But as a runner himself, he knows that Mexico City isn't an easy place to jog. In a metropolis of 22 million, there are only a handful of parks where people can run.

­

Mario Alberto Maciel Tinajero looks like a fairly healthy 68-year-old. He has a few extra pounds on his chest but he's relatively fit. Yet he's suffered for the last 20 years from what he calls a "terrible" condition: diabetes.

"I've never gotten used to this disease," he says. Maciel runs a stall in the Lagunilla market in downtown Mexico City. This market is famous for its custom-made quinceañera dresses and hand-tailored suits.

Bangladesh has done a great job of getting more toilets to more people. Now it needs to figure out how to empty them.

Things are spiraling downward in South Sudan, one of four nations where, according to the U.N., the greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945 is unfolding.

And in the case of South Sudan, it's not drought or climate change that's causing the catastrophe. It's civil war.

Last month the U.N. declared a famine in two parts of the country and warned that nearly half the population is in urgent need of food assistance.

The World Health Organization for the first time has issued a list of the top 12 "priority pathogens." They're disease-causing bacteria that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics, says WHO. Yet the development of new antibiotics to treat them has slowed to a crawl.

"We are fast running out of treatment options," says Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's assistant director-general for Health Systems, in a statement.

The first sign of trouble was the monkeys dropping dead in the forest. Then people started getting sick and dying, too.

Brazil is in the midst of its worst yellow fever outbreak since the 1940s, when the country started mass vaccination and mosquito eradication campaigns to thwart the virus.

If you get malaria somewhere in the tropics and end up in a British hospital, the treatment is pretty simple.

Or at least it used to be.

One of the big questions about extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis is whether this severe form of the disease is on the rise due to a failure of medications or if it's spreading through the air.

A new study of more than 400 patients in South Africa finds, unfortunately, that the answer appears to be the latter. Airborne transmission is the driving force behind a spike in extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) in South Africa, according to a report just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Jamaica is facing a crisis as specialized nurses leave the island to take jobs in North America and Europe.

The exodus has forced Jamaican hospitals to reschedule some complex surgeries because of a lack of nursing staff on their wards.

James Moss-Solomon, the chairman of the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, says the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are, in his words, "poaching" Jamaica's most critical nurses.

"Specialist nurses is the problem. We have tons of regular nurses," he says.

"This year there's been one big home run and a lot of scratch singles." That's how Red Sox fan and editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, sums up the year-that-was in public health.

For six years, Haitian activists have demanded that the United Nations accept responsibility for cholera in Haiti.

Yet many seemed almost shocked on Thursday by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's apology for the U.N.'s role in the outbreak. Shocked — and pleased.

Each year, the United States gives $5 billion to $6 billion to fight HIV/AIDS around the world, with particular emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for two-thirds of the nearly 2 million new infections each year.

For World AIDS Day, we sat down with the U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, Deborah Birx, to talk about the state of the epidemic and the work of PEPFAR, set up by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the intention of saving the lives of people suffering from AIDS around the world.

While the HIV/AIDS epidemic no longer looks as menacing as it did in the 1980s and '90s, efforts to stop the spread of the disease have hit a brick wall.

The number of new Zika cases in Puerto Rico has dropped dramatically in recent weeks, yet health officials worry the full effect of the outbreak on the island may not be known for months or years to come.

Puerto Rico has confirmed more than 34,000 Zika infections since the virus was first detected on the island in November 2015.

Have bed nets lost their power to protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes?

That's the subject of debate among researchers looking for ways to cut down on malaria cases and deaths.

Over the past two decades, the insecticide-treated bed net has been one of the most powerful tools against malaria.

He wasn't sure he had the right name to run for student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His first name was pretty ordinary — Bradley. But his last name is Opere — definitely not a familiar-sounding name in the U.S.

"You have to have a white-sounding name to run for office," says Opere, a business major who's from Nairobi, Kenya. The ambitious 24-year-old ran anyway.

And with his air of quiet confidence – and the skills he gained from two-years spent at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg — he won 53 percent of the vote.

In Western and Central Africa a new technique to combat malaria is rapidly gaining traction across the Sahel. Health officials in 11 countries are now giving children antimalarial drugs during the rainy season in this semi-arid region and seeing a dramatic drop in the number of malaria cases.

The Ebola virus doesn't always make people incredibly sick, and some people who are infected don't even know they have it, according to research published Tuesday in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Haiti on Tuesday launched the largest emergency cholera vaccination campaign ever attempted. The plan is to try to vaccinate 800,000 people in parts of the country devastated by Hurricane Matthew.

Immediately after the Category 4 storm tore across southwest Haiti last month, the number of reported cholera cases across the country shot up dramatically. In some storm-ravaged areas it jumped tenfold.

Nationwide, the number of new cases went from roughly 75 a day to well over 200.

Pages