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Michael Hirsh ( -
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 8:07 pm:   

I'm an author/journalist currently working on a book proposal about Lariam. This will be my fifth non-fiction book. I'm published by New American Library/Penguin and HarperCollins. You can check reviews of my most recent book, NONE BRAVER, at I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has had personal experiences with Lariam, good or bad. I'm also interested in tracking down stories of PC volunteers whose suicides are anecdotally attributed to the drug.
Please contact me at or Thanks. Michael Hirsh, Punta Gorda, FL
Anonymous ( -
Posted on Saturday, August 13, 2005 - 11:04 am:   

look into a male volunteer from Oregon who was in Mali in 2003.
James A. West ( -
Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 1:25 pm:   

Just do a Google search including the search phrase "peace corps" coupled with the search term "lariam." A lot of info (and names) will come to you.

BTW, I did some brief research on this and I admit to being puzzled. There are 3 antimalarial medicines effective against the deadlier 'resistant' forms of malaria:

1) Lariam
2) Malarone
3) Doxycycline

And, this is a cost comparison of all three from Consumer Reports magazine - quote, "According to Scott-Levin, a market-research firm that tracks the drug industry, a week's dosage of Malarone costs about $33; Lariam, $10; Doxycycline, $3."

And of the three, the cheapest drug also seems to have the least (if any) side-effects ... and NONE of those side-effects are psychological. In short, Doxycycline can cause sun sensitivity (just wear a sun blocker) or cause yeast infections in women (medicines for that are readily available). The only 'good' thing about Lariam is that you only have to take it weekly. Malarone and Doxycycline apparently have to be taken daily. But frankly, taking one pill a day instead of one pill a week, and keeping yeast infection medicine handy (if female) seem like small sacrifices of convenience to make. It's certainly better than risking psychosis.

Just curious about something. If a PCV 'refused' to take Lariam, choosing to take Doxycycline instead, would that be acceptible to the PC ... or would they tell the PCV, "Either take the Lariam or you don't go?"
RPCV ( -
Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 3:30 pm:   

Well James A West. You just blew your best chance of getting into Peace Corps. The topic of
medicine which Peace Corps dispenses is not open to discussion by them or the pharmaceutical company which makes them! It's open to discussion by relatives of those who took it and got permanently zapped with its gross side effects. And by upcoming PCVs who do their homework first.
Like you're doing. If you really wanted in, you should have just gone and kept quiet about this. There are other medicines which function 100%
but which are not allowed in America. And dipsticks self tests for all kinds of malarias
and AIDS.

Please see thebig
trek dotcom chapter6&7 which deals with
the issue of intentional injury to PCVs
with absolutely not an iota of responsibility
to be admitted by Peace Corps. The above title is coded because it has been deleted from my computer in previous letters to PCOL. Not by PCOL. PCOL put the above mentioned chapters in its library two years ago. Lethal documents on the web were added later.

Perhaps the most astonishing event which happens
in America culture-wide is being told to do what the rules said and when you did and was injured, you got left for dead, while the INs grin radiantly from behind their assigned desk to keep you at bay.

For 20 years so far, for me, longer for others.
I survived a 99.99% first day fatal brain disease not described in the Peace Corps medical manual
See your medical manual, or buy one from any
bookstore. See that Falciparum malaria is
separate from malarias we are told about. Its
symptoms are not the same as malarias we are
told about. [There are none.]

All that needed doing was a very single page handed out with this information on it. I don't personally know anyone in control of Peace Corps health who is vicious enough, disinterested enough to not mind sending nice volunteers to a
possible death and the plan of action is to
blame them. But it seems that kind is running
our show. Just wait til I get my day in court!
With over a dozen documents. James a West, maybe
as a writer you are more needed in America.
James A. West ( -
Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 2:58 pm:   

BTW ... I wonder if THIS guy was a Lariam user:
James A. West ( -
Posted on Saturday, December 17, 2005 - 2:11 am:   

RPCV, I read your missive above and went to the site ... but it's organized by pages, not chapters, and pages 6 & 7 don't mention the Peace Corps.

Anyhoo, the scenario you outline is not exclusive to the Peace Corps (though perhaps a bit more dangerous). My employer once asked a coworker to stay beyond their "break time" to finish up time-sensitive work. She did and, during that brief period, was injured by a container lid slamming down on her hand. She reported the accident as required. The results? The same supervisor to asked her to stay wrote her up for the safety violation, quote, "failure to take a timely safety break." Later, the union got that disciplinary action squashed ... but that's the M.O. where I work.

A more dangerous example? One of my coworkers, now retired, was an insulin-dependent diabetic. And during work, he'd often test his blood-sugar to see when and if he needed a shot. Once, he told me, "Jim, gotta go to the bathroom." I knew why and said nothing. In the interim, the supervisor came into my area and noticed my coworker was gone ... and was waiting for him when he got back from the bathroom. The following conversation ensued:

SUPERVISOR: Where were you?

EMPLOYEE: Had to take an insulin shot.

SUPERVISOR: Well, the next time you have to do that, could you wait until it's not so busy?

EMPLOYEE: The next time you give me medical advice, could you show me your license to practice medicine?

SUPERVISOR: How would you like to be written up for insubordination?

EMPLOYEE: Just get me a union steward.

SUPERVISOR: (heaving a deep sigh) Ohhh, never mind (walks off).

It's a sign of our times ... in the Peace Corps, in other government work, and even in the private sector. Policy and productivity are paramount. The human factor is marginalized.
Joanne Marie Roll (joey) ( -
Posted on Saturday, December 17, 2005 - 2:15 pm:   

A Union? A Union Representative? The right to due process and the right to protection under OSHA and ADA provisions? Mr. West, are you under the impression that serving peace corps volunteers have a union? Are you under the impression that serving peace corps volunteers can readily access legal representation to enforce their due process rights, if indeed such rights could even be defined? If these are your assumptions, you are wrong on all accounts.
Peace Corps Volunteers serve at the pleasure of the President and all too often, depend on the "kindness of strangers" for their very survival.
Mr. West, you do not have a clue.
James A. West ( -
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2005 - 2:00 am:   

Ms. Roll, you obviously didn't read my post thoroughly ... or if you did, it is you who has no clue.

I made no such suggestion of 'union' regarding the Peace Corps. My 'union' comments were specific only to my current employer. All I said was that management disregard and/or contempt for employee health/safety is not exclusive to the Peace Corps. This makes the Peace Corps no different than countless other public and private sector employers. The dangerous part (as I alluded to in the parenthetical comment in paragraph 2 of my last post) is that, in a foreign country, it's a lot easier to ignore these issues and get away with doing so than it is here in the U.S.
Joanne Marie Roll (joey) ( -
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2005 - 2:33 pm:   

I guess what I don't understand is your analogy. The problem is not the attitude of management, the problem is what rights do employees have to protect themselves from the consequences of such attitudes. You cited a situation where the employer was indifferent, but the employee had immediate access to union representation.

The problem for Peace Corps volunteers is not that they are in a foreign country; it is that they are NOT employees; that they can not access, easily, legal representative to protect their rights. The problem is not their location (foreign country), the problem
is their status.

I did not see anything in your post that indicated you understood the nature of Peace Corps service and the vulnerability of Peace Corps Volunteers and that is to what I was responding.

Quite frankly, perhaps I was too quick to react for which I apologize. It is just to compare the situation of serving Volunteers to unionized employees tends to minimize the difficulties that serving volunteers face. There are many of us who wanted Congress to pass legislation which would have appointed an ombudsman to help serving Volunteers with these kinds of problems. That legislation failed.
James A. West ( -
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2005 - 3:15 pm:   

Fair enough. But the point I was trying to make is that indifference to subordinates ... whether they be 'employees' (in the traditional sense of the word) or 'volunteers' is not exclusive to the Peace Corps. Not everyone in public/private sector jobs have access to union protection, either. Couple that with cutbacks to OSHA and, to a certain degree, an 'indifference' on the part of OSHA, and dangers to these people become much clearer. A person can die (or be injured for a lifetime) just as easily and quickly in a metal fabrication plant as they can in a third world area ... especially if people at the top don't really care.

The ombudsman idea is a great idea, by the way. But it'll never happen under the current administration ... unless it's made to happen. By that, I mean it might be time for RPCVs to pepper the big media entities for interest in doing some investigative reporting on the matter. Sometimes, media interest is all it takes.

Case in point.

A few years ago due to staff shortages, enlisted personnel at Fallon Naval Air Station were required to work an overwhelming overtime load. It got so bad that spouses of enlisted persons went to the base commander to urge invervention. The base commander poo-pooed the problem as not being so bad and refused to do anything.

So ...

The spouses arranged for their young children to carry picket signs in front of the base gates ... all saying things like "I want my Daddy" or "I want my Mommy." The local media glommed onto it immediately. And when spouses explained the situation to them, and local media people were turned away by the base commander, they passed it on to CNN. All of a sudden, it became national news (grin). The base commander asked the spouses for a discussion of the matter. But this time, the spouses stood their ground and told the base commander the kids would KEEP picketing until the overtime problem was addressed ... that there was no point in 'discussing' the matter. Finally, the Joint Chiefs intervened and provided additional staffing. End of problem.

I would suggest that RPCVs organize and get their kids to hold up picket signs saying "Please don't hurt my daddy" or "Please don't hurt my mommy" ... and march them in front of Federal Buildings nationwide - alerting local media entities via a press release that this is a NATIONAL protest with picketing children in multiple cities. They'll pass it on to CNN, MSNBC, etc. After a week or so of this unrelenting picketing (and media coverage), the ombudsman idea might take on a whole new significance in Congress (grin).
James A. West ( -
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2005 - 3:46 pm:   

P.S. to last post. If RPCVs do this, I suspect the PC will find out about my post in this forum ... and applications for PC volunteer opportunities by anyone named "James West" will be denied immediately, hehehe. But the idea I mentioned DID work.

Around Christmastime, my employer's workload increases to a point where they have to hire temporary staffing ... all with no benefits or even employment protection. And these temps are treated VERY badly ... worked as little as 2 hours a day or as much as 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Three years ago, temps were working 7 twelve-hour days a week. A manager was discussing the matter with a union steward who, because they were temps, had no control over the matter. She just wanted to appeal to 'reason' on their behalf. I overheard the conversation and went over to them ... where I mentioned the Fallon solution to the overtime problem. The steward smiled and said, "Hey, that's not a bad idea." The manager was NOT smiling (grin). A week later, more temps were hired ... and a week after that, the temps were all working 5 eight-hour days a week (or less).

I'm not sure whether or not I personally had anything to do with this 'solution' ... but the best antidote to complacency is 'action' ... or in some cases, 'fear' of an action. Food for thought.
Joanne Marie Roll (joey) ( -
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 6:39 pm:   

James, before you go any further with your application, I would like to suggest you "google" peacecorpsonline for a newspaper series by the Dayton Daily News, entitled "Casualities of Peace" and beginning, I believe, October 29, 2003. The series would also lead you to read many comments from RPCVs. Perhaps picketing might have helped the legislation; but there certainly was a concentrated lobbying effort.
James A. West ( -
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 8:48 pm:   


Found it here:

I'll read it throroughly ... and thank you for pointing it out. But, it's not too late for picketing ... especially by children. There is something about picketing children that draws media attention not given to adult picketers ... especially if what they're picketing for involves the life and/or health of their parents. The news media "eats up" such stories ... and public interest would be aroused.
For Vol ( -
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 8:33 pm:   

Mr. West,

Joanne Roll is right. There was a concentrated effort to get the ombudsman's office at Peace Corps. However, the Ombdsman's office is not far enough. We need, a general counsel that works on behalf of the volunteers in service. The Military has lawyers representing them in their activities and they are volunteers.

The Peace Corps act was written on a military model, but they just forgot to include the provision to protect the civil and service rights of volunteers. How convient for the administrators at Peace Corps, most who did not serve to separate and violate the rights and experiences of good hard working volunteers. These people gave their time to country, some have perished, not a as mechanical fabrication specialist but swore into the United States government. What has their government give them? They have given them no civil rights and a bunch of know it all bureacrats, most who have never lived in a village let alone work in remote village without the protection of their troop or a weapon like in military service.

Mr. West, believe me some have picketed. Just ask a few at Peace Corps they will tell you. This fight on people in Peace Corps getting their civil rights violated in Peace Corps service especially in the medical service has been fought on the hill, day in and day out for years. For commentors to make perojative statements about these efforts in to be ignorant, not knowing what has been stopped deliberately by Senator Dodd, and other former members of Peace Corps woking as staff on the hill.

Media attention, we have gone to these avenues. There are certain former volunteers who wrok their who don't want these issues highlighted because they served and it was not their experience, so it is dropped as story such as Al Kamen, Chris Matthews.

By the way, when I picketed they sent Mr. Stephanopolous out to speak with me because they knew I worked for Clinton, Tsongas and at the White House. I waited for him to respond, he did,saying he could do nothing. So, he is well aware of the issues related to this subject. The problem is the political will and the empathy to understand what these volunteers have done in service.

Because in the everyday world, people don't really care about Peace Corps. It is not high on their adgenda's especially for the few who have been abused, raped, victims of violence, medical malpratice or who have perished in service. Most people could give a hoot. The people like Dodd and the National Peace Corps Association use this apathy to squash real change and concerns. In doing so, they violate former volunteer rights, Civil rights as american Citizens.

What someone should do is file in federal court challenging this issue of volunteer and employee. What is really strange is when you agree with Peace Corps medical practices and you get injured, you get Federal Employment compensation. They consider you an employee under this act but when it comes to gross negligence and real medical malpractices and safety and security seprations, they consider you a volunteer. Many they use the FECA system to bribe them into "doing it their way" because they don't want to make waves.

Medical malpractice is happening at Peace Corps today and its been happening for years. It needs to be stopped, eradicated and Peace Corps volunteer civil rights need to be understood by staff and americans.

Former Volunteer
Anonymous ( -
Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 7:13 pm:   

I have a question around Malaria meds. Is it possible to get Malarone or Doxycycline instead of Larium? Or is their attitude, "you'll get Larium and take it or get admin separation?"


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