Shrinking the Malaria Map

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

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia reported 83 local cases in 2015, achieving a 98% decrease in reported malaria cases between 2000 and 2015.

The malaria burden has been low in Saudi Arabia since 2000, with the majority of cases, both local and imported, occurring in Asir and Jazan provinces along the southwestern border with Yemen. Despite a considerable number of imported cases originating in Yemen, India, and Pakistan in recent years—2,537 were reported in 2015—only four malaria-related deaths have been reported in Saudi Arabia since 2000. All local cases in 2015 were Plasmodium falciparum infections, although imported cases in recent years have been increasingly P. vivax. Because most of the Arabian Peninsula is a desert climate, malaria transmission in Saudi Arabia is focal, primarily occurring along rivers and in oases, and the malaria program focuses its efforts in these areas. Transmission typically occurs between November and March.

Financing for malaria elimination activities in Saudi Arabia is provided entirely by the government, and coverage of vector control and surveillance activities within the remaining foci of transmission are high. The biggest challenge to malaria elimination in Saudi Arabia is the steady influx of imported cases across the Yemeni border. In response to this threat, a regional partnership was formed in 2007 when the goal of a malaria-free Arabian Peninsula by 2015 was outlined in a strategic plan approved by all peninsular countries. Saudi Arabia has intensified its cross-border collaboration with Yemen, including coordinated malaria surveillance and long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net distribution, staff training exercises, and standardization of malaria drug policy between the countries. Although Saudi Arabia did not meet its elimination target of 2015 due to ongoing transmission in the Jazan Province, the country continues to work towards elimination. 

83 # of cases (2015)
2015
Elimination goal
High
Income level
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