Blaney disappointed with VA committee study

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is disappointed with the results of a study conducted by the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs about the anti-malaria drug mefloquine.

Blaney, who serves as vice-chair of the committee, would like to see a screening process for all members of the Canadian military who have used the drug.

“What we (committee) heard again and again from veterans is they wanted to see acknowledgment, that there was a problem with mefloquine, and some of them are experiencing it,” she said in a recent media teleconference. “Right now, what we know is we don’t have that process in place.”

In the 1990s, the Canadian Armed Forces had used the drug for members deployed to regions where malaria posed a health risk. Since then, issues with the drug — such as anxiety, paranoia and psychotic behaviour — have been discovered. Several veterans have taken the federal government to court on the issue.

Blaney said experts who spoke to the committee about people who contracted mefloquine toxic response were instead being treated for Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Those are two things that are separate. You may have both of them, but how you deal with them is different,” she said. “I would like to see the government supporting the military, and doing outreach to people who have taken mefloquine, look at their medical histories, and see if we can support them in a positive way.”

Blaney notes that mefloquine is no longer being administered, unless a person has previously taken it.

“I think that’s a step in the right direction,” she said.

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