A recent joint evaluation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Syrian Ministry of Health found that the country’s primary disease surveillance system, the Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS), is functioning effectively in detecting and preventing outbreaks of diseases such as measles and cholera. The evaluation team, comprising experts from WHO regional office for Eastern Mediterranean, WHO Country Office in Syria, and national counterparts, assessed 46 health facilities and laboratories across 13 Syrian governorates.
The preliminary findings of the evaluation indicate that EWARS is operating efficiently with high levels of timeliness, completeness, and acceptability at field level. The team recommended that the list of diseases under surveillance be revised to include case definitions and that disease thresholds be reviewed. Additionally, they suggested efforts to strengthen staff capacity, data quality and feedback loops.
Dr Iman Shankiti, Acting WHO Representative in Syria stated that this recent assessment was crucial in ensuring EWARS remains agile and fit for purpose. Dr Sherein Elnossery from Infectious Hazards Prevention and Preparedness unit at the Regional Office said that EWARS is a vital lifeline for people in Syria amid ongoing conflict and uncertainty. She added that it has proven resilient even in the face of devastating earthquakes this year by providing early warnings of outbreaks and emerging threats which saves lives and protects community health.
WHO will use these mission recommendations to develop a plan to further strengthen EWARS’ capacity to detect and respond to disease outbreaks as well as emerging threats.