North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is serving as vice-chair of the Veterans Affairs committee, which is working on a study about the anti-malaria drug mefloquine. The Canadian Armed Forces had used the drug for members deployed to regions where malaria posed a health risk.
“A lot of people have been talking about the impacts of mefloquine. What has been most startling for me, and the committee, is how little research and how little information that we have,” said Blaney, Veterans Critic for the NDP. “We do know that now the military has taken a pretty strong stance on that, and our men and women in uniform are not using mefloquine unless they have taken it prior without any medical impacts…There is still a lot of concern about those who have taken it previously, and what health issues may have arisen as a result of this.”
From what the committee is hearing, mefloquine side effects include sleeping difficulties and anxious feelings.
“Those two things happening at the same time, it’s hard for our men and women in uniform maybe to notice that their body is not working well with the mefloquine,” Blaney said. “It’s a very concerning situation. It’s a small percentage of people that has this physical impact, but it can create some very concerning mental conditions.”
The committee is conducting further research, and hoping to be considering solutions to support veterans and current military personnel who have taken the drug, and who may have had ensuing health issues.