Canadian veterans are stepping up their opposition to the military’s continued use of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, widely blamed for neurological disorders.
Outside a downtown Calgary armed forces recruitment office, 14-year military veteran Dave Bona protested what he calls Ottawa’s failure to address the problems stemming from years of mefloquine doses in hot climate conflict zones such as those in Africa.
But Bona said he’s using his efforts travelling throughout western Canada this summer to educate veterans who might be suffering from exposure to the drug and not know it.
“We want to raise awareness, there are so many veterans who have been misdiagnosed with PTSD,” he said.
But he’s also drawing attention to a pair of reports issued to the country’s surgeon general and Health Canada stating there’s no conclusive evidence mefloquine causes permanent or long-lasting psychiatric or neurological damage.
“Based on the surgeon general’s report, I will not be able to receive treatment,” said Bona, who becomes progressively angrier as he speaks about the government reports.
“You’re supposed to look out for your soldiers, you don’t sanitize a report so your government can save a few bucks,” he said.
The man, court-martialled in 2000 for behavioural problems he blames on mefloquine, said he was administered the drug once a week for at least a year in the early 1990s during deployments to Somalia and Rwanda.