HC Deb 27 February 2001 vol 363 cc609-10W
Mr. Keetch

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the personnel who have contracted malaria as a result of deployment to Sierra Leone did not receive anti-malarial treatment until they were in Sierra Leone; and if he will make a statement. [150672]

Dr. Moonie

As of 21 February, there were 113 confirmed cases of malaria among Service personnel who deployed to Sierra Leone. On the basis of the investigations undertaken by my Department, of these 113 cases, there are no more than 10 personnel who did not receive their anti-malarial treatment until after arriving in Sierra Leone. In all but one case this was as a result of their deploying at very short notice. Within 24 hours of these personnel arriving in theatre, however, the French drug Savarine was procured locally and distributed. Steps were immediately taken to procure Mefloquine, the preferred anti-malarial treatment, from the UK and all personnel taking Savarine transferred to Mefloquine within four days. The other individual was temporarily absent from his unit on duty just prior to deploying and missed the issue of Mefloquine. He was issued with Mefloquine as soon as the problem came to light between two to five days after his arrival in theatre.

No anti-malarial drug is 100 per cent. effective and the degree of protection can be subject to a wide range of factors; for example, the geographical location, the season, and the activities undertaken by the individuals concerned. Therefore, as well as anti-malarial drugs, other types of protection and environmental controls are used. Even with such precautions, however, malaria is not wholly preventable.

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