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 which are 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. All of the anti-malaria drugs have contraindications and side effects, and significant precautions are taken by the Defence Forces Medical Officers in accessing the medical suitability of personnel to take any medication.
Malaria is a serious disease and can be fatal. This is a fact that is borne out by the World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Report 2018 which estimates there were 219 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2017 with an estimated 435,000 malaria deaths. The reason a malaria chemoprophylaxis is prescribed to our troops is to protect them.
The State Claims Agency manage personal injury claims, including personal injury claims relating to the consumption of Lariam taken by current and former members of the Defence Forces. Given that there is litigation pending in relation to these matters, the Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.