The Deputy will be aware that the State Claims Agency manages personal injury claims on behalf of the Department of Defence. The Lariam case referred to by the Deputy was settled on 30 November 2017 without admission of liability. The plaintiff withdrew any part of his claim relating to the choice by the defendants of Lariam as a chemoprophylactic. All other matters are settled and the case was struck out. The Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to discuss legal strategy in respect of ongoing litigation.
I assure the Deputy that the health, safety and welfare of the men and women of the Defence Forces are key priorities for me and military management. Three anti-malarial drugs, namely, Lariam, Malarone and doxycycline, continue to be used by the Defence Forces. The selection by a medical officer of the most appropriate drug for use is complex and depends on several factors. All of these anti-malaria drugs have contraindications and side effects. Significant precautions are taken by the Defence Forces medical officers in accessing the medical suitability of the members of the Defence Forces to take any anti-malarial medications. It is the policy of the Defence Forces that personnel are individually screened for fitness for service overseas and medical suitability.
A range of support services, including medical and non-medical, are available to all Defence Forces personnel who may require them for whatever reason. These include access to Defence Forces medical officers, psychological and social work services and psychiatry. In addition, the Defence Forces personnel support services provide a confidential information, education, support and referral service designed to give Defence Forces personnel and their families access to information and services from within the military community and outside it.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
A 24-hour confidential helpline is also available.
A working group was re-convened to review developments arising with regard to malaria chemoprophylaxis and the use of Lariam, especially in the context of the current and potential litigation. The working group has produced its second report, which has been provided to me. It has made a total of 12 recommendations, many of which focus on areas including planning, training and education or information sharing as well as the establishment of a new medical advisory group. This will formalise the provision of ongoing expert medical advice, including external expert medical advice, to the Defence Forces on a range of medical matters, including chemoprophylaxis. Preliminary work has commenced in this regard.