As I indicated to the Deputy in response to the Private Members' motion of 28 June 2017 regarding the anti-malarial drug Lariam, the use of anti-malarial drugs is a medical matter to be decided by medical professionals. In the Defence Forces, these are matters for highly qualified medical officers having regard to the specific circumstances of the mission and the individual member of the Defence Forces.
There are three anti-malarial drugs, namely Lariam, Malarone and Doxycycline, used by the Defence Forces. The selection by a medical officer of the most appropriate drug for use is a complex one and dependent on a number of factors. Significant precautions are taken by the medical officers in assessing the medical suitability of personnel to take any of the anti-malarial medications. It is the policy of the Defence Forces that personnel are individually screened for fitness for service overseas and medical suitability for all missions and not just those to sub-Saharan Africa.
As the Deputy will be aware, the second report of the malaria chemoprophylaxis working group was completed in 2017. This report set out a number of recommendations relating to planning, training and education, information sharing and for the establishment of a medical advisory group. An implementation group has been established and is progressing these recommendations.
The intent is that the medical advisory group will further inform internal and external expert medical advice to the Defence Forces on a range of medical matters, including malaria chemoprophylaxis. This will provide further supports in the ongoing evolution of Defence Forces medical policy. These actions will ultimately serve to enhance further the existing medical care provided to all members of the Defence Forces, including those posted overseas.
In addition to access to a wide range of primary care supports, a number of other supports are provided to members of the Defence Forces. For example the personnel support service makes confidential services, including critical incident stress management and psycho-social support available to all Defence Forces personnel through its network of barrack personnel support service officers and occupational social workers at formation, unit and barrack level.
In addition, my Department has arranged the provision of a confidential counselling, referral and support service on a wide range of personal and work-related issues for serving members of the Defence Forces.