Drugs re­port ‘ kick in guts’ says vet­eran

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TESS IKONOMOU

A TOWNSVILLE vet­eran is “dis­gusted” with a re­port handed down from a Se­nate In­quiry into the Aus­tralian De­fence Force’s use of an­ti­malar­ial drugs.

The re­port in­cludes 14 rec­om­men­da­tions and was tabled after gath­er­ing ev­i­dence through pub­lic hear­ings around the coun­try about the im­pacts of meflo­quine and tafeno­quine.

Colin Brock, 49, served in the army for 20 years and was pre­scribed tafeno­quine for seven months while de­ployed to East Ti­mor.

“We stood on that pa­rade ground and were told if we didn’t take it we were not de­ploy­ing,” he said.

“We’re just all dis­gusted in the process. We can’t be­lieve what’s hap­pened, and they haven’t lis­tened to the ev­i­dence of any­one. “It’s like a kick in the guts.” One of the rec­om­men­da­tions made in­cluded im­prov­ing the in­formed con­sent process of De­fence’s Hu­man Re­search Ethics Com­mit­tee.

The sen­a­tors were con­cerned ADF mem­bers are po­ten­tially vul­ner­a­ble to feel­ing pres­sured to par­tic­i­pate in re­search by their su­pe­rior of­fi­cers be­cause of the hi­er­ar­chi­cal na­ture of the ADF.

“The terms of ref­er­ence of the De­part­ments of De­fence and Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs Hu­man Re­search Ethics Com­mit­tee be up­dated to ex­plic­itly in­clude con­sid­er­a­tion that prospec­tive re­search par­tic­i­pants may be vul­ner­a­ble to per­ceived co­er­cion to par­tic­i­pate,” the re­port said.

Former Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer of the 1st Bat­tal­ion, The Royal Aus­tralian Reg­i­ment Re­tired 3 Star Lieu­tenant Gen­eral John Cali­gari said de­spite sol­diers sign­ing con­sent forms, they most likely didn’t fully un­der­stand what it con­sti­tutes.

“Most would have seen the boss tak­ing it and signed with­out fully con­sid­er­ing what in­formed con­sent is and their right to say no,” he said.

“While they have said there is in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence link­ing meflo­quine and tafeno­quine, there needs to be more thor­ough re­search done as it isn’t as clear cut.”

The Se­nate in­quiry is made up of politi­cians from both sides, who have pub­licly de­clared they are not med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

“The com­mit­tee needs to state that it is not com­prised of … health ex­perts and so can­not make any find­ings or rul­ings in re­la­tion to the med­i­cal causes for health is­sues,” the re­port stated.

Al­most 20 years ago about 3000 troops were given the an­ti­malar­ial drugs while de­ployed in East Ti­mor and Bougainville.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.