Listen

Marc Silver

We launched this blog in the summer of 2014, when the Ebola outbreak in West Africa had just begun. We've been covering global health and development ever since — never so intensely as during the past year of the coronavirus pandemic.

So you've heard a lot from us. And now we'd like to hear from our readers.

Take the survey.

Tell us how you think we're doing. All it will take is a few minutes to fill out our survey. Thanks!

Here's a few things you probably didn't know about malaria and the U.S.

At least eight U.S. presidents had it, including George Washington (infected in Virginia), Abraham Lincoln (infected in Illinois) and John F. Kennedy (infected in the Solomon Islands during World War II).

The current U.S. caseload is zero (with the exception of Americans who contract the disease abroad).

Why do animals — including people — behave the way they do?

That's a question long pondered by researchers.

A new study on this pressing topic, published this month in Royal Society Open Science, reveals an interesting insight into goats — and perhaps humans as well.

It is 7 a.m. on a chilly morning in September.

Alice Akinyi Amonde is standing on a beach along the Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria. She makes her living by selling fish, and she's waiting for her boat to come in from a night on the lake so she can take the fisherman's catch, clean it and sell it in a nearby village.

When things were going well in her village of Nduru Beach, she'd earn about $50 a day. Now she is lucky if she makes $3 a day.

Every year, Stephen Lim and his colleagues at the University of Washington compile and analyze health data from every country on the planet to come up with a sort of global report card.

Year after year, one of the biggest success stories has been the vaccination of children.

"We've really seen this steady progress in increasing the fraction of children who are receiving ... in particular, the basic vaccines — diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis," Lim says.

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

OK, so I'd planned a flight to visit my grandkids last week because with cold weather and the flu season looming in the U.S., it seemed like late summer/early fall might be a good window of opportunity to travel.

"You aren't going to have the year you thought you'd have."

That's what a nurse told my wife and me after my wife was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. The cancer news came as a shock, as it often does. There were no warning signs. The tumor was picked up on a routine mammogram.

It was hard to take in what the nurse was telling us. We had plans and projects and dreams for the months ahead. Then suddenly — surgery, chemotherapy and radiation were the top items on our agenda.

We were mad. How dare cancer interfere?

Maxwell Posner/NPR / YouTube

I like to run. And bike. And go for walks.

Especially during the pandemic. It's a time I can almost forget about the novel coronavirus.

Masks make a statement. About who you are — and your views of the pandemic.

That's true in countries from the United States to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The government of Congo requires all Congolese to wear masks when going out in public to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Paul Farmer, professor of medicine at Harvard University, has spent three decades helping poor countries fight devastating diseases – from tuberculosis to cholera to Ebola to Zika. As co-founder of Partners in Health, he works to strengthen health-care systems in Haiti (where the group started), Malawi, Rwanda and other low- and middle-income countries, where he's seen what works – and what doesn't work – when disease strikes.

You may wake up, look out the window and be struck by how things seem pretty normal.

Spring is coming, trees are flowering, birds are chirping.

And if you go to the kitchen to make breakfast and see that someone in your household left dirty dishes in the sink, you'd be peeved.

Wuhan is a ghost town, yet there are still definite signs of life.

That's the status of this city of 11 million, which has seen strict quarantine measures imposed in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus disease.

As of Feb. 10, every compound, or residential complex, in Wuhan has been put under "closed-off management" orders by the government.

The goal is to keep healthy people from getting infected by going out and about.

Updated on Feb. 3 at 1:30 p.m. ET

China said it was going to build two hospitals in under two weeks.

The time frame was not an exaggeration. Ground was broken on the first facility on Jan. 24. Chinese media reported that the facility, with beds for 1,000 coronavirus patients, opened its doors on Feb. 3.

But the term "hospital" may not be exactly on point.

Sure, everybody thinks it's great when a story is read by many hundreds of thousands of folks. That's definitely a success.

But what about stories that don't get a lot of pageviews? Maybe the headline just didn't catch a reader's eye. Or maybe there was so much news that day that the story slipped through the cracks of the internet and tumbled into digital oblivion.

When childhood cancer is diagnosed early and treated effectively, the survival rate is impressive. In the United States, for example, the five-year survival rate for children with cancer is 80 percent.

Why is it that the U.S. is among the top 30 countries in the world with the highest rates of deaths from gun violence? At a rate of 4.43 deaths per 100,000 people, it is four times higher than the rates in war-torn Syria and Yemen.

"Sex for fish."

That unlikely phrase is used in some lakefront communities in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world where men catch the fish and women sell the catch to local customers.

In Malawi, for instance, a woman may take a fisherman's catch and promise to pay him once she's made her sales. Only she might have trouble selling all the fish. So she might pay off what she owes for the fish by engaging in a sexual encounter.

Kennedy Odede seems like the kind of guy who wouldn't be scared of anything.

Imagine your house is gone. And yet the TV is still standing.

That's one of the scenes that photojournalist Tommy Trenchard documented as he visited parts of Mozambique hit by Cyclone Kenneth on Thursday.

Last year, I was chatting with a colleague, Joe Palca, about what we did over the weekend. "I made gefilte fish," I said.

"Oh, my grandmother used to make it with tuna fish," Joe said.

My jaw dropped to my toes.

Tuna fish? From a can?

Yup. That's what she did. "I didn't care for it," Joe told me, although he couldn't remember exactly why. He was, he adds, a fan of non-tuna gefilte fish.

Welcome to 2030!

We asked some social entrepreneurs – people who've created projects to make the world a better place – to predict what they hope to accomplish in the not-too-distant future.

They are tackling a range of daunting issues: child sexual abuse on the internet, youth unemployment, mental health crises, counterfeit drugs, lack of access to medicine. Some of them have founded nonprofit groups, others are hoping to make a profit as they do good. To get up and running, they've relied on a mix of government money, donations, grants, fees from companies that buy in.

Goats (and sheep) have been recruited in the effort to fight wildfires.

Northern Spain has a "Fire Flocks" project, in which dozens and dozens of the ruminants chip in by doing what they do so well: eat.

A new video from BBC World Hacks, which highlights "brilliant solutions to the world's problems," tells the story. It was published on October 11.

Before she was on the BBC's list of "100 inspirational and innovative women for 2017"...

Before she was given the "Diamond Ball Honors Award" by the charitable Clara Lionel Foundation started by the singing star Rihanna ...

She was Angeline Murimirwa, a little girl in Zimbabwe who loved school but was afraid she wouldn't get to continue her education.

Secrets Of Success From A 102-Year-Old Runner

Sep 14, 2018

Editor's note: This story was originally published in January and has been republished with updates on Man Kaur's running achievements.

At 102, Man Kaur is still running — and winning gold medals.

The phenomenon from India just nailed the gold medal in the 200-meter race for the 100-to-104 age group at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain. She finished in 3 minutes and 14 seconds.

Then again, she was the only competitor in that age bracket.

She also picked up a gold medal in the javelin competition.

As the editor of a blog called Goats and Soda (see this story for the explanation behind the name), I'm always interested in the latest goat research.

So I was definitely hooked by a press release that declared, "Goats prefer happy people."

He was 11 years old. He lived in Niamey, the capital of Niger. And he'd never had a chance to go to school.

"Education in my country sucks," he says.

So he played soccer on the streets.

Then he had an idea. The father of a friend owned a company that made leather goods. Soumana Saley decided he wanted to learn to be a leather craftsman. "I really liked the work," he remembers.

Leah Feldman is on Ebola duty — again.

The young Maryland trauma nurse is a veteran of the Ebola wars. She worked on the Doctors Without Borders team in Guinea in 2014 and 2015.

She happened to be in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working on a cholera vaccination project, when a case of Ebola was reported in a remote part of the northwest in April.

If someone were to tell you their job was a burden, you might feel sorry for that person.

So when Consolata Agunga told me, "I feel good because I have the burden of serving my people," I was puzzled.

How can a burden make you feel good?

You can't help but note that of the six winners of the 2018 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship, five are women.

"I'm the odd man out," jokes Harish Hande, an awardee for his SELCO Foundation, which works to provide solar power systems at low cost to the poor in India.

From time to time, readers ask us, "How did your blog get its name?"

It's a longish story (here is the full explanation). In a nutshell, goats are a useful animal in the lower-income countries we cover. They can contribute to the income and the nutrition of a family.

We've also learned from talking to goat specialists that goats are curious and independent animals — true to the spirit of our blog, if we might humblebrag.

Pages