Shrinking the Malaria Map

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

El Salvador

El Salvador reported only three local cases of malaria transmission in 2015 and will very likely achieve national malaria elimination well in advance of the 2020 goal set for the region.

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America and one of the most densely populated. The country achieved a 99.6% decline in reported malaria cases between 2000 and 2015, from 753 cases to just three local cases. Plasmodium vivax is the predominant malaria parasite, and since 2000 there have been just 29 reported cases of P. falciparum--nearly all of which were imported. The vast majority of imported cases occur among migrant laborers who come to El Salvador for agricultural or artisanal work. Malaria transmission occurs year-round but is highest during the May to October rainy season, peaking in July and August.

Although El Salvador now maintains low transmission with few reported cases, the scattered transmission foci requires a dispersed concentration of malaria activities. San Salvador Province in the central part of the country contains nearly one-third of El Salvador’s population and had 42% of all reported malaria cases in 2008. Cases have also recently been reported throughout the southwest region along the border with Guatemala and along the eastern border with Honduras.

Over the past five years, El Salvador has been working to improve microscopy practices, implement community-driven education activities, increase epidemiological surveillance, reduce transmission foci, and control the number of imported malaria cases. The malaria program also performs active case detection in areas where temporary employment is found and conducts focal indoor residual spraying (IRS).

3 # of cases (2015)
Elimination goal
Lower middle
Income level
Reported cases
Reported cases
P vivax transmission limit (2010)
P vivax transmission limit (2010)

Challenges to elimination