The Syrian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently completed a joint evaluation of the country’s disease surveillance system, the Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS). EWARS has been instrumental in detecting outbreaks of measles, cholera, and other diseases during the ongoing crisis in Syria, and preventing their further spread.
The evaluation team, consisting of experts from the WHO Regional Office for Eastern Mediterranean, the WHO Country Office in Syria, and national counterparts, assessed 46 health facilities and laboratories in 13 Syrian governorates. Preliminary findings indicate that EWARS is functioning effectively at field level, with high levels of timeliness, completeness, and acceptability. However, the team recommended several improvements to make it even more effective. They suggested revising the list of diseases under surveillance to include case definitions and reviewing disease thresholds. Additionally, they recommended efforts to strengthen staff capacity, data quality and feedback loops.
Dr Iman Shankiti, Acting WHO Representative in Syria stated that this recent assessment was necessary “to help us ensure that EWARS remains agile and fit for purpose.” Dr Sherein Elnossery from Infectious Hazards Prevention and Preparedness unit at the Regional Office added that EWARS is a vital system for people in Syria facing ongoing conflict and uncertainty. “EWARS has proven resilient even in the face of devastating earthquakes this year,” she said “By providing early warnings of outbreaks