The WHO Country Office in Ukraine, in collaboration with WHO/Europe, WHO headquarters, and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently conducted a pilot workshop on early warning, alert and response (EWAR) in emergencies. This marked a significant milestone for Ukraine, particularly in the context of ongoing wartime challenges.
The workshop aimed to bolster Ukraine’s ability to swiftly identify and respond to public health threats with a comprehensive all-hazards approach. This strategic focus is expected to minimize losses and safeguard lives and health during emergencies by helping Ukrainian public health practitioners to guide related decision-making.
“We have already used different parts of EWAR in Ukraine, but now it will be easier to implement such a system in a structured and organized way if the need arises,” said workshop participant Oksana Koshalko, Head of the Department of Organization of Epidemiologic Surveillance at the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.
Twenty-four national- and regional-level experts representing key entities such as the Ministry of Health and its Public Health Center, the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection, Ukraine’s centres for disease control and prevention, and frontline regions actively participated in the workshop. It provided them with essential insights into the fundamentals of a systems approach to EWAR, emphasizing coordinated mechanisms for early detection of public health events, risk assessment and immediate emergency response.
This collaborative event was developed based on the WHO manual “Early warning alert and response (EWAR) in emergencies: an operational guide” within the framework of a joint project involving WHO/Europe, WHO headquarters and the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (the Italian National Institute of Health), with support from the CDC. The manual serves as a valuable resource for decision-makers seeking to understand and implement a robust early warning and response system for emergencies.