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Peace Corps Announcements

Posted on August 9, 2013 by Peace Corps

By Barry G. Simon, M.D., Peace Corps Medical Director, Office of Medical Services

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated its warning label on the anti-malarial drug mefloquine hydrochloride, and there has been a surge in news coverage lately about the side effects of medications used to prevent malaria.

The Peace Corps takes these warnings very seriously and has taken proactive steps to ensure that Volunteers have all of the information they need to make an informed decision about the anti-malaria medication that is right for them, in collaboration with their Peace Corps Medical Officer.

Before beginning any kind of anti-malaria regimen, every Volunteer has an individual, one-on-one consultation with their Medical Officer to discuss the pros and cons of each medication and all possible risks and side effects. Volunteers can revisit their choice of medication at any time during their service, and while mefloquine continues to be an FDA-approved medication for malaria prevention, Volunteers who wish to request a change in medication can do so simply by talking with their Peace Corps Medical Officer. This policy is in place at every Peace Corps post worldwide, and the Peace Corps is working hard to make sure each and every Volunteer is familiar with the options available to them.

The Peace Corps uses a multi-pronged approach to combat malaria among Volunteers, which includes training on prevention, provision of insecticide-treated bed nets, screening for windows in all Volunteersí homes, and a choice of one of four types of medication, each of which has proven extremely effective in suppressing malaria. With the proper use of bed nets, protective clothing, insect repellents and anti-malarial medication, the chances of developing active malaria are significantly reduced.

The Peace Corpsí Office of Health Services continually updates its policy on malaria suppressive medications based on the best medical information available and is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor any further developments. Currently serving Volunteers who have questions about their health care can contact the Peace Corpsí Quality Improvement Unit at qualitynurse@peacecorps.gov. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with concerns about their health care can contact the Peace Corpsí Post Service Unit at psu@peacecorps.gov

 

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