The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) offers a range of support for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who are concerned about having taken mefloquine (trade name Lariam) or tafenoquine.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has engaged the services of an external provider, BUPA, to deliver a national program of health assessments for veterans who are concerned about having taken the anti-malarial medication mefloquine or tafenoquine.
Any veteran who has concerns about the potential health effects of having taken the anti-malarial medications will be able to receive a comprehensive health check and health assessment recommendations report by an appropriately trained general practitioner (GP). These whole-of-person health assessments will help to identify service-related illness, disease and injury by GPs trained to address medical issues specific to veterans and anti-malarial medications. Veterans will receive a confidential, customised health assessment report that will provide a basis for further treatment. The ongoing management and coordination of which will be undertaken by the veteran’s usual GP.
The first health assessments were offered in January 2021 in Brisbane. As at 28 February 2021, BUPA had recruited five GPs to deliver health assessments located in Brisbane (2 GPs), Adelaide, Ipswich and Townsville. BUPA are now working to expand the network of GPs to other states and territories in the near future.
Veterans that have previously contacted the 1800 MEFLOQUINE (1800 633 567) hotline will be contacted to book their appointment once the assessments become available in the region where they live. DVA is continuing to accept expressions of interest for the health assessment through 1800 MEFLOQUINE (1800 633 567) and any concerned veterans are encouraged to call this number.
Bupa hosted three Lived Experience co-design workshops on 22–24 July 2020 to gain valuable insights on veterans’ lived experience to inform the development and implementation of the health assessment communications, information and booking processes. Veterans who had previously registered their interest in receiving a health assessment were invited to participate in the workshops
To access a summary of the discussion points from the Lived Experience workshops held on 22, 23 and 24 July 2020, please download the following:
A Frequently Asked Questions document based on stakeholder feedback gathered during the Lived Experience workshops is available for downloading:
To access a summary of the final co-design meeting held on 7 October 2020, please download the following:
To access a summary of the key themes discussed by forum attendees, download the following:Between 26 September and 27 November 2018, DVA hosted seven mefloquine and tafenoquine consultation forums. Forums were held in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Perth, Melbourne and Darwin.
To access the resources given to the consultation forums, download the following:
On 4 December 2018, the Senate Inquiry report into the use of quinoline antimalarial drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force was published. The full report is available at the Senate Inquiry website.
The Government Response to the Senate Committee Report, was tabled by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs on 15 March 2019.
The Response is available on the Senate Inquiry website.
DVA would like to thank the individuals and organisations who made submissions or gave evidence to the Senate Inquiry for their contribution to this important issue. Their evidence adds to the Government’s understanding of how we can further serve and support veterans and their families.
The Government would like to acknowledge that for some it was a difficult process to provide details about their concerns. Should any of these individuals need support, or someone to talk to, Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides free, confidential, national-wide counselling and support and can be contacted 24/7 on 1800 011 046.
About Mefloquine and Tafenoquine
DVA recognises mefloquine and tafenoquine as being associated with several health conditions under the Statements of Principles (SoPs) system that applies to treatment and compensation claims.
For a summary on mefloquine and tafenoquine and the resources and support available (including relevant web links, phone numbers and email addresses), download one of the following:
For more information visit Malaria, mefloquine and the ADF.
DVA has a designated phone line — 1800 MEFLOQUINE (1800 633 567) — for veterans with enquiries, including available support.
Mental health treatment
DVA can pay for treatment for any mental health condition without the need for the conditions to be accepted as related to service. This is known as non-liability health care and it is available to anyone with one day of continuous full-time service in the ADF and some reservists.
Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling
Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling also provides free, confidential, nationwide counselling and support for eligible current and former ADF members and their families and can be contacted 24/7 on 1800 011 046.
Free online tools
Mental health information and resources for veterans and their families are available through Open Arms — DVA’s portal to online mental health information.
Open Arms provides self-help tools and information to support mental health and wellbeing and is a gateway to websites and mobile apps about stress, PTSD, alcohol management, resilience and suicide awareness and prevention. The apps include High Res, which helps build resilience and manage stress, Operation Life for those managing suicidal thoughts and On Track with The Right Mix, which helps people track and manage their drinking.
Open Arms also provides links to a wide range of mental health resources for health professionals and GPs for effective evidence-based treatment of veterans.
For general practitioners
Defence and DVA encourage general practitioners (GPs) to review Defence Joint Health Command’s Clinical Guidelines for providing appropriate care to ADF members concerned about having been prescribed mefloquine. While there is no specific way to diagnose the long-term effects of mefloquine and no specific treatment, other than to treat presenting symptoms, these guidelines outline a commonsense approach to the management of individuals who are concerned their current problems may be caused by mefloquine use in the ADF.
Current and former members of the ADF who have a diagnosed health condition that they believe relates to mefloquine or tafenoquine can lodge a claim with DVA.
To lodge a claim or for assistance with mefloquine- or tafenoquine-related claims, call DVA on 1800 MEFLOQUINE (1800 633 567) or visit DVA’s online Entitlement Self-Assessment tool.
When a claim is accepted, current and former ADF members can access treatment and rehabilitation support.
Access to mental health treatment is available immediately, when required, and is separate to DVA’s compensation process.
DVA assesses compensation claims under three pieces of legislation, two of which use Statements of Principles (SoPs). SoPs are legislative instruments that state factors that must exist to establish a connection between a health condition and military service.
An independent statutory authority, the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA), determines the SoPs.
Further information on the Statement of Principles and the determinations of the Repatriation Medical Authority are available on our statement of principles page.
Together, mefloquine and tafenoquine are included as a potential causal factor in for 16 conditions.
Statements of Principles related to Mefloquine are available HERE Statements of Principles related to Tafenoquine are available HERE
The Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) investigated mefloquine as a cause of panic disorder. It found that panic attacks resulting from medications belong under a diagnosis of ‘medication-induced anxiety disorder’ and are covered by a new factor in the anxiety disorder SoP. As such, there is no new factor relating to mefloquine in the panic disorder SoP.
The RMA investigated whether SoPs may be determined in respect of ‘chemically-acquired brain injury caused by mefloquine, tafenoquine and primaquine’. The RMA found that there is insufficient sound medical-scientific evidence that exposure to these pharmaceuticals causes acquired brain injury and, therefore, will not make SoPs in relation to this. The report is available via the RMA.
On 18 September 2018, the Specialist Medical Review Council (SMRC) completed its review of the RMA investigation and it confirmed the RMA’s decision. For further information visit SMRC Decisions.