Jason Beaubien | WGLT

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.

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There are now more than 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world. Here in the U.S., Dr. Deborah Birx with the White House Coronavirus Task Force says Americans need to try harder to comply with the social distancing guidelines.

One of the new staples of the coronavirus outbreak here in the U.S. has been the nightly briefings from the White House coronavirus task force. A regular at the lectern, and often the only woman on stage, is Dr. Deborah Birx. In her role as coronavirus response coordinator, she has become one of the most prominent voices of the administration around this crisis.

Earlier this year, when the first reports of the coronavirus started to come out of China, global health officials said they were very worried about what would happen if the virus started spreading in Africa, where many health systems are already struggling.

Well, now the coronavirus is spreading in Africa.

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Hong Kong and Singapore were hit early with the coronavirus. But each now has fewer than 200 cases, while France, Germany and Spain, which were hit late, all have more than 10 times that number.

Three weeks ago, Italy had only three cases. Now it has more than 10,000.

These dramatic differences show that how governments respond to this virus matters, says Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization's head of emergencies.

As the U.S. and much of the world deals with the arrival of COVID-19, one place that's managed to limit the spread of the disease is Hong Kong.

Hong Kong sits right up against China's Guangdong Province, which has had more than 1,300 cases, the second largest number on the mainland after Hubei.

But Hong Kong has seen fewer than 100 cases since the outbreak began, and so far its strategies to contain the coronavirus have prevented large-scale outbreaks that have happened in countries like Iran, Italy and South Korea.

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As the new coronavirus outbreak spreads around the world, Hong Kong is bracing for a possible surge in cases. The city so far only has 18 cases but its first death from the disease was confirmed on Tuesday – a 39-year-old man who had visited Wuhan, China.

Residents are particularly on edge because many of them lived through the devastating SARS outbreak in 2003. Hong Kong suffered 299 deaths from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, the most anywhere outside of China. SARS crippled the city's economy. The concern now is that this latest outbreak might do the same.

Nurses in Hong Kong are threatening to go on strike if the city doesn't shut its border with mainland China. Some nurses have already engaged in unauthorized sickouts to protest what they say is a lack of action by Hong Kong officials.

A "wet market" in Wuhan, China, is catching the blame as the probable source of the current coronavirus outbreak that's sweeping the globe.

Patients who came down with disease at the end of December all had connections to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan China. The complex of stalls selling live fish, meat and wild animals is known in the region as a "wet market." Researchers believe the new virus probably mutated from a coronavirus common in animals and jumped over to humans in the Wuhan bazaar.

Before Britain started sending convicts to the continent in the 1700s, aboriginal Australians used fire to manage brushlands and forests across the continent.

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It used to be that the battle to overcome inequality was about money. It was about helping the poor get better jobs so they could access a larger slice of the economic pie.

What if that approach to inequality is no longer relevant?

In the latest edition of its Human Development Report, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) argues that 20th-century thinking on global inequality no longer works in the 21st century.

The report warns that a new generation of inequities are driving street protests and damaging societies — and they're on track to get worse.

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Nancy Pelosi said there is, quote, "no choice but to act."

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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."

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.

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.

In the Bahamas, the damage Hurricane Dorian wreaked on roads, airports, communication grids and other infrastructure is presenting a logistical nightmare for emergency responders and aid workers trying to get basic supplies to the neediest storm victims.

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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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