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WHO expands the system for detection, alert, and containment of potential epidemics in light of Mosul humanitarian response

Baghdad, 27 Oct 2016: In coordination with the Iraqi Federal Ministry of Health and Ministry of Health of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), WHO conducted from 28 September to 6 October 2016 three consecutive training sessions in Erbil and Suleimaniyah in Kurdistan region.

The trainings focused on the Early Warning Alert and Response Network (EWARN) targeting staff of the new health facilities established to respond to the health needs of newly displaced populations in formal and emergency settlements and hosting communities.
“We have to monitor communicable diseases trends, patterns, and vigilance,” said Altaf Musani, WHO Representative to Iraq. “EWARN will be the tool to measure these trends and help in the early detection of epidemics in displaced populations’ areas to support the Federal and Regional ministries of health and health cluster partners with effective epidemic prone diseases prevention and control measures,” he added.
This series of trainings marked the entry of new 43 health facilities to EWARN network in Iraq to scale up the number of reporting sites to over 180. Twenty four health staff from Ninewa Directorate of Health received comprehensive training on EWARN reporting and are ready for deployment to the new health facilities to resume related EWARN functions.
The training sessions were designed to assist health professionals in identifying communicable diseases which contribute most to excess morbidity and mortality among displaced population. They explained the rationale and outbreak investigation process of EWARN in emergencies; described the functions, and roles and responsibilities in EWARN at both ministry and governorate levels; and described the alerts verification and outbreak response measures for selected disease events.
The training also addressed a number of issues relating to selected disease events/syndromes case definitions; alerts verifications and steps of outbreak investigations and EWARN reporting through the use of tablets.
“Our support to the national health authorities includes pre-positioning stockpiles of essential medicines and medical supplies, building the health staff capacity in EWARN, and improve the laboratory capacity. Applying the best practices will be important to avert mortality and morbidity from any epidemic of communicable diseases, including cholera,” Musani noted.
The EWARN was established in Iraq in November 2013 after the massive displacement of Syrian refugees to the northern region of the country. There were five reporting sites to the system from five refugee camps at that time. In 2014, EWARNS was extended to include all health facilities serving internally displaced populations in all governorates of Iraq.
It is important to mention that these training activities were rendered possible through the generous financial contribution of:
1. The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
2. The European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)

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For more information please contact:
- Ms Ajyal Sultany, Communications Officer, World Health Organization Iraq,
+964 (0) 7510 101 469, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
- Dr Muntasir Elhassan, EWARN Coordinator, World Health Organization Iraq,
+964 (0) 7809 288 616, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional Info

  • Agency: WHO