In recent years, the Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS) has played a vital role in detecting outbreaks of diseases in Syria. The system, which is operated by the Syrian Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), has been instrumental in preventing the further spread of measles, cholera and other illnesses.
Recently, an evaluation team made up of experts from the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, WHO Country Office in Syria and national counterparts assessed 46 health facilities and laboratories in 13 Syrian governorates. The preliminary findings of this evaluation indicated that EWARS is working effectively, with high levels of timeliness, completeness and acceptability – particularly at field level.
The team recommended several improvements to EWARS to make it even more effective. Firstly, they suggested that the list of diseases under surveillance be revised to include case definitions. Additionally, they recommended that disease thresholds be reviewed. The team also suggested efforts to strengthen staff capacity, data quality and feedback loops.
Dr Iman Shankiti, Acting WHO Representative in Syria, said that the evaluation was timely: “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, of the Infectious Hazards Prevention and Preparedness unit at the Regional Office, echoed this sentiment: “EWARS is a lifeline for people in Syria in the face of ongoing conflict and uncertainty.”
“EWARS has proven to be resilient