Shrinking the Malaria Map

UCSF Global Health Group’s Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI)


Reporting only 14 cases of local malaria transmission in 2015, Bhutan is well positioned to achieve its national elimination goal of 2018.

Bhutan is a small, landlocked country with a mountainous terrain and a mostly rural population. The country achieved a 99.8% decrease in reported malaria cases between 2000 and 2015 and is approaching elimination. Cases peaked at nearly 40,000 in 1994 and dropped to just 14 local cases in 2015. Malaria in Bhutan was caused by both Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax in 2015.

Bhutan typically has two transmission peaks according to rainfall patterns; the first occurs in April-May, and the second in August-September. However, the seven districts with the highest malaria burden, located along the southern border with the Indian states have perennial transmission and are at high risk for cross-border importation of malaria from India. The groups most at risk of malaria are males, specifically farmers, students and migrant workers, due to various occupational factors including traveling to India for business or working in the fields or forests. 

The Vector-borne Disease Control Program (VDCP) of Bhutan launched a strategic plan for phased malaria elimination in 2011, targeting 2016 for elimination of malaria in the eight districts with seasonal transmission while reducing incidence in the seven high-transmission districts. However, in light of the impressive reduction of transmission in all districts since the launch of the phased elimination plan, Bhutan revised its goal to national elimination by 2018. 

14 # of cases (2015)
Elimination goal
Lower middle
Income level

Country briefing

Reported cases
Reported cases
P falciparum transmission limit (2010)
P falciparum transmission limit (2010)
P vivax transmission limit (2010)
P vivax transmission limit (2010)

Challenges to elimination