Shrinking the Malaria Map

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

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has sustained zero cases of local malaria transmission since 2013 and is now working towards malaria-free certification.

Costa Rica experienced a considerable decline in malaria cases over the past two decades. Plasmodium vivax was always the dominant parasite species in Costa Rica, regularly accounting for more than 95% of all cases. Other than a localized outbreak in 2006, P. falciparum cases were minimal. However, of the seven local cases reported in 2012, three were determined to be caused by P. malariae, which had not been reported in Costa Rica since 1970.

Malaria transmission in Costa Rica was historically the lowest of all countries in Central America. Transmission was highest in the rural areas of Limón Province, located along the Caribbean coastal lowlands and home to a large indigenous population. Malaria in Costa Rica was strongly associated with outdoor labor, and populations at risk included undocumented migrants in border areas and agricultural workers moving with the seasonal harvest. Limón Province is also prone to year-round rainfall and seasonal flooding, which increased the risk of malaria transmission.

Throughout its history, the activities of the malaria program have been largely funded by the Costa Rican government. However, Costa Rica is a participating country of a regional grant from the Global Fund entitled Elimination of Malaria in Mesoamerica and the Island of Hispaniola (EMMIE), which has provided results-based funding and facilitate cooperation for regional elimination efforts. Support from EMMIE aided Costa Rica in achieving national malaria elimination.


0 # of cases (2015)
Elimination goal
Upper middle
Income level
Reported cases
Reported cases

Challenges to elimination