6.4.2. Early warning
The second pillar of the network is an early warning and
response system (EWRS) to alert public health authorities in Member States and
the Commission on outbreaks with greater than national dimensions, for which a
co-ordinated EU action may be required (Commission Decision 2000/57/EC).
In order to ensure a rapid and effective response by the
EU to events (including emergencies) related to communicable diseases, the
Commission has put in place an early warning and response system (EWRS). EWRS
is a web-based system linking the Commission, the public health authorities in
Member States responsible for measures to control communicable diseases and the
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). EEA Countries
(Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) are also linked to the system.
Decision 2119/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the
Council, and Decision 2000/57/EC regulate the procedure for reporting and for
the functioning of the system. Under these decisions, Member States should
inform about events likely to affect public health at EU-level. Therefore, the
EWRS is frequently used for notification of outbreaks, exchange of information
and discussion about the coordination of measures among players. The EWRS has
been successfully used in a number of events such as SARS, avian influenza in
humans and other major communicable diseases.
The ECDC is in charge of providing scientific advice and
risk assessment concerning messages received through the EWRS. Starting from
2007, the Centre has also been supporting the Commission by operating the IT
To increase the comparability of the data from the
different Member States an important Commission decision was taken on 19 March
2002. This decision 2002/253/EC lays down case definitions for reporting
communicable diseases to the Community network.