The WHO and the Syrian Ministry of Health recently conducted a joint assessment of the country’s main disease surveillance system, the Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EVARS). During the ongoing crisis in Syria, EVARS played a critical role in detecting outbreaks of measles, cholera and other diseases and preventing their further spread.
A team of experts from the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, the WHO Syria Office, and national colleagues evaluated 46 health facilities and laboratories in 13 Syrian governorates. The preliminary findings suggest that EVARS is working effectively with high levels of timeliness, completeness, and acceptability, especially at the field level. The evaluation team recommended several improvements to strengthen staff capacity, data quality, and feedback.
Dr Iman Shankiti, WHO’s Acting Representative in Syria, said that this recent assessment was timely as it helps ensure that EVARS remains agile and fit for purpose. The organization is committed to working with the Ministry of Health to further strengthen EVARS and make it even more effective. Dr Sherein Elnosseri from the Regional Office’s Infectious Disease Prevention and Preparedness Unit also expressed pride in being part of the team working on this vital system.
The results of this evaluation will be used by WHO to develop a plan to strengthen EVARS and increase its capacity to detect and respond to disease outbreaks and emerging threats.