The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Syrian Ministry of Health recently completed a joint evaluation of the country’s main 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.
The evaluation team, comprising experts from the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, WHO Country Office in Syria, and national counterparts, assessed 46 health facilities and laboratories across 13 Syrian governorates. Preliminary findings indicate that EWARS is working effectively at field level with high levels of timeliness, completeness, and acceptability. The team recommended revising the list of diseases under surveillance to include case definitions and reviewing disease thresholds. They also advised efforts to strengthen staff capacity, data quality, and feedback loops.
Dr Iman Shankiti, Acting WHO Representative in Syria said that this recent assessment was critical to ensure that EWARS remains agile and fit for purpose. “We are committed to working with the Ministry of Health to strengthen EWARS and make it even more effective,” he added. Dr Sherein Elnossery from the Infectious Hazards Prevention and Preparedness unit at the Regional Office stated that EWARS is a lifeline 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 and emerging threats, it helps save lives and protect communities’ health.” The WHO will use these mission recommendations to develop a plan to further increase EWARS’ capacity to detect