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

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

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Baghdad, 26 October 2016 – In coordination with the Iraqi Federal Ministry of Health and Ministry of Health of Kurdistan Regional Government, WHO conducted 3 consecutive training sessions from 28 September to 6 October 2016 in Erbil and Suleimaniyah in the Kurdistan region. 

The training focused on the early warning alert and response network system (EWARNS) and was targeted at staff from 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. “EWARNS will be the tool to measure these trends and help to detect early epidemics in displaced population areas to support the federal and regional ministries of health and health cluster partners with effective epidemic-prone disease prevention and control measures,” he added. 

This series of trainings marked the entry of new 43 health facilities to the network in Iraq to scale up the number of reporting sites to over 180. 24 health staff from Ninewa Directorate of Health received comprehensive training on EWARNS reporting and are ready for deployment to the new health facilities to resume related EWARNS functions.

The training sessions were designed to assist health professionals to identify communicable diseases which contribute most to excess morbidity and mortality among displaced populations. They explained the rationale and outbreak investigation process of EWARNS in emergencies, described the functions, and roles and responsibilities at both ministry and governorate levels and the alert verifications 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 EWARNS 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 capacity of health staff in EWARNS, and improving laboratory capacity. Applying the best practices will be important to avert mortality and morbidity from any epidemic of communicable diseases, including cholera,” Musani noted. 

EWARNS was established in Iraq in November 2013 after the massive displacement of Syrian refugees to the northern region of the country. There were 5 reporting sites to the system from 5 refugee camps at that time. In 2014, EWARNS was extended to include all health facilities serving internally displaced populations in all governorates of Iraq.

These training activities were rendered possible through the generous financial contribution of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).

Related link

EWARNS dashboard

For more information, please contact:

Ajyal Sultany
Communications Officer
WHO, Iraq
+974 7510101469
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Key health-related statistics

Total population (000s) 37 140
Total health expenditure on health (% of general government expenditure) 6.5
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) 50
Number of primary health care units and centres (per 10 000 population) 0.7
Total life expectancy at birth (years) 69.8

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

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