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GOAL on front line of fight with Ebola in Africa

AN executive with Irish agency GOAL has spoken of the battle against myths and confusion surrounding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Darren Hanniffy was back in Dublin yesterday after a week-long visit to Sierra Leone.

Mr Hanniffy (40) said GOAL is "up-scaling" its action plan to counter the escalation of the disease.

Mr Hanniffy told the Herald that GOAL has a team of 100 staff in Keneman in Sierra Leone where 35 local people were confirmed dead with Ebola.

They are working to help encourage the local population to implement vital health precautions, he said.

Mistrust, social traditions, and misinformation has resulted in people shunning anyone with a relative who might have the disease.

Consequently, the local hospital was largely deserted.

The agency has found it rare for anyone to admit publicly to even a fever or headache. GOAL is currently helping care for 50 orphans of Ebola victims in Sierra Leone.

Deaths of medical workers and mistrust have damaged the health system there.

In an unrelated development, there was a short-lived Irish health scare after Journal.ie issued a report that the Mater Hospital's National Isolation Unit was preparing to receive Ireland's first case of a suspected Ebola victim.

The early-morning report stated that a man at an unnamed Dublin hospital with 'flu-like' symptoms was being examined for the possibility he could have the virus.

In a follow-up report, the website reported medical consultants had ruled out Ebola.

The HSE also issued a statement declaring there were no confirmed cases, or suspected cases, of Ebola in Ireland.

Journal.ie editor Susan Daly stated later that "a source close to the patient" had stated Ebola was being "seriously considered as a possibility". The story was promptly updated when Ebola was ruled out, she said.

Donations to GOAL's emergency appeal can be made on www.goal.ie or by telephoning 01 9059990


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