In the midst of ongoing conflict and uncertainty in Syria, the Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS) has proven to be a vital tool for detecting outbreaks of diseases and preventing their further spread. Recently, a joint evaluation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Syrian Ministry of Health assessed the effectiveness of EWARS. The evaluation team found that EWARS is working well, with high levels of timeliness, completeness and acceptability at field level.
The team recommended several improvements to make EWARS even more effective. These include revising the list of diseases under surveillance to include case definitions, reviewing disease thresholds, strengthening staff capacity, data quality and feedback loops. Dr Iman Shankiti, Acting WHO Representative in Syria, emphasized the importance of this recent assessment: “The last evaluation of EWARS dates to 2017. This recent assessment is critical to help us ensure that EWARS remains agile and fit for purpose.”
Dr Sherein Elnossery from the Infectious Hazards Prevention and Preparedness unit at the Regional Office highlighted how EWARS has been resilient even in the face of devastating events such as earthquakes. She stated that “EWARS has proven to be a lifeline for people in Syria in the face of ongoing conflict and uncertainty. By providing early warnings of outbreaks and emerging threats, it helps to save lives and protect the health of communities.”
WHO will use the mission recommendations to develop a plan to strengthen EWARS further increase its capacity to detect and respond to disease outbreaks and emerging threats. The system has been instrumental in detecting outbreaks of measles, cholera, among others during crisis in Syria; it’s crucial that it continues to function effectively as healthcare facilities across Syria submit weekly surveillance data for consolidation analysis response process