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Jason Beaubien

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

What's the worse-case Ebola outbreak?

Public health officials would say it's when the virus is spreading in a crowded urban environment that's a major transportation hub and has dilapidated, ill-equipped health care facilities.

Unfortunately, that's what's happening right now in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For the first time ever, Brazil is attempting a nationwide immunization campaign against yellow fever.

An ongoing outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease has killed hundreds of people in parts of Brazil where yellow fever traditionally wasn't considered a threat and most residents aren't vaccinated against it.

"We can call this the biggest outbreak in modern times," says Dr. Mauricio Lacerda Nogueira, the president of the Brazil Society for Virology. "Since the middle of the 20th century we never had an outbreak of this size."

More than two decades after South Africa ousted a racist apartheid system that trapped the vast majority of South Africans in poverty, more than half the country still lives below the national poverty line and most of the nation's wealth remains in the hands of a small elite.

The development of antibiotics in the middle of the 20th century was one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine. Penicillin and its pharmaceutical cousins saved millions of lives. But like a magic potion given to the world by a stern fairy, antibiotics come with a catch — If you abuse them, you lose them.

For decades, scientists have been warning that antibiotic resistance is on the rise globally because of misuse of the drugs.

But a new report makes it clear that the world is not listening.

It's the worst Lassa fever outbreak ever recorded in Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization.

"In January alone there were more cases [203 suspected cases] than during the whole year 2017 combined," says Lorenzo Pomarico, emergency coordinator for the medical group ALIMA, the Alliance for International Medical Action. "This is an extraordinary and unprecedented outbreak in its sheer scale."

Peter Sands took over this month as the new head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But before he'd even officially taken his seat at the Fund's offices in Geneva, he was under attack for a new partnership with Heineken.

"India is the diabetes capital of the world!"

That was a headline two years ago in the Times of India. And that's not a case of media hype. India has a huge diabetes problem: nearly 70 million people are grappling with the disease.

There's no Xbox or PlayStation for most of the kids in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. But there are kites.

In the late afternoon, a steady wind blows over the hills of the Hakimpara refugee camp. Young boys race to a ridge at the top of the settlement to fly homemade kites. Some of the "kites" are little more than a plastic bag flapping on a string. But some are more sophisticated with long tails and frilly tassels. "This is a new kite and I'm very happy with it," says 7-year-old Mohammed Arfat as he reels out string to a silvery kite 30 or 40 feet above him.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have built makeshift shelters on steep, sandy hills in Bangladesh. They've fled what the U.N. has called ethnic cleansing in neighboring Myanmar.

Now they face a new danger in the unplanned camps that sprawl over 3,000 acres: The monsoon season is expected to start in April.

Diphtheria poses one more threat to already beleaguered Rohingya refugees.

The outbreak started in the sprawling camps in Bangladesh in November soon after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya arrived. It appeared to have peaked around New Year's but now there is renewed concern as the potentially fatal disease continues to spread.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Colombia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Now that a peace deal has been reached in that South American country, the slow process of getting rid of landmines is underway.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Puerto Rico is in the midst of the worst electricity outage in U.S. history. Most of the island remains without power more than two months after Hurricane Maria hit the island.

Some Puerto Ricans are saying that the current crisis should be a wake-up call that the island needs to move to a less centralized power system — and that solar power might be part of the solution. In other words, they believe Puerto Rico should follow the lead of many developing nations where solar power production is expanding rapidly.

Kevin Canas Quitumbo was 13 years old when shrapnel from a land mine ripped through his left leg, up his torso and all the way to the back of his skull. That was five years ago. His doctors are still working to repair the damage.

"In January and February I have to go back to the hospital," he says. "The doctors are going to put additional metal rods into my foot."

Forty days after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, most of the U.S. territory remains without power.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The world is incredibly close to wiping out polio. This year the number of polio cases has shrunk to fewer than a dozen. And those cases are in just two countries — Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Bacquerette woke up early. She made breakfast for her 2-year-old daughter, left the child with her neighbor and started the long walk to the village of Ambohitsara. Bacquerette wanted to make sure she was one of the first people in line for a one-day-only family planning clinic.

She walked almost two hours on footpaths that snake along the sandy bank of the Canal des Pangalanes in eastern Madagascar. And she managed to arrive at the event just after it started.

The 33-year-old single mother had come to get an IUD.

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