On a national level it is very important to have the capacity to collect credible and reliable
data to develop national early warning systems. This allows countries to detect problems earlier and to be better prepared
to identify threats and put in place evidence-based solutions.
The structures of early warning systems differ between countries and should be designed
to meet local needs in terms of institutional structure, social characteristics and national drug use patterns. Although some
early warning systems function without a formal framework, many national systems operate under a legal framework which defines
the role of the system, determines the tasks of the various stakeholders and provides a legal basis for information sharing.
Participation in early warning networks can vary from informal phone calls or email exchanges
to official communication in a standardized format. For a well-functioning early warning mechanism, real-time communication
is necessary to facilitate cooperation and information-sharing. This can be achieved through formal or informal channels including
dedicated virtual platforms and requires close collaboration and trust among stakeholders and the establishment of protocols
to deal with sensitive, confidential and classified information.