The Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS) in Syria has been evaluated by a joint team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Syrian Ministry of Health. The evaluation was conducted to assess the effectiveness of EWARS in detecting outbreaks of measles, cholera and other diseases during the ongoing crisis in Syria.
The evaluation team assessed 46 health facilities and laboratories in 13 Syrian governorates. Preliminary findings indicate that EWARS is working effectively, with high levels of timeliness, completeness, and acceptability, particularly at field level. The team recommended several improvements to strengthen EWARS, including revising the list of diseases under surveillance to include case definitions, reviewing disease thresholds, and increasing staff capacity and feedback loops.
Dr Iman Shankiti, Acting WHO Representative in Syria, stated that the evaluation was timely as it helped ensure that EWARS remains agile and fit for purpose. Dr Sherein Elnossery of the Infectious Hazards Prevention and Preparedness unit at the Regional Office added that EWARS is a critical lifeline for people in Syria during ongoing conflict and uncertainty. She said that EWARS has proven resilient even during devastating earthquakes this year by providing early warnings of outbreaks and emerging threats. WHO will use the mission recommendations to develop a plan to further increase EWARS’ capacity to detect and respond to disease outbreaks and emerging threats.