39. Mefloquine Dispatches: Anti-Malarial Medications Health Assessment Program, 15th March 2019

I wasn’t involved in the 2018 Senate Enquiry into the “Use of the Quinoline anti-malarial drugs Mefloquine and Tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force”. Why would I? I never deployed.

Turned out I copped the Mefloquine Loading Dose in 1997. Plus, the cocktail they serve up afterwards. It was never noted in my medical or personal records. I didn’t remember it until I had flashbacks to another incident. It all got lost to history until the flashbacks hospitalised me.

I got very ill in late 2018 and continued to worsen until I was hospitalised in March 2019. I left the mental health unit in early April with a will to get better. I tried to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs for months after that and my advocates and I were initially optimistic about the DVA’s response to the Senate Enquiry. As my advocate and I filled out the claims for mefloquine which I had done almost two-decades previously we were heartened by Darren Chester’s announcement of the Anti-Malarial Initiative.

You can read the Ministers statement here. He announced this on the 15th March 2019.

When my advocate and I rang up a few months later in mid-2019 we were told that the entire Mefloquine programme was being shut down!

Here is the official response for the anti-malarial health check dated 2nd October 2019.

We fought very hard to get mefloquine back on the agenda. The various Ministers and the DVA have fought against us at every step.

The Anti-Malarial Medications Health Assessment Program finally got up in late 2021 run by BUPA. Outsourced to an insurance company.

Why is that important today?

Because the DVA is promoting a program that outsources complex health situations for veterans in extremely hazardous situations to an insurance group. This has led to deaths amongst veterans.

It needs to stop.

If you need help…

Thank you for your interest. More Mefloquine Dispatches can be found here.