El Salvador



El Salvador was WHO certified malaria-free in 2021 with the last indigenous case being reported in 2016. Malaria control and prevention efforts began in El Salvador during the 1940s with the construction of the first permanent drains in swamps in addition to indoor residual spraying with DDT. During the mid-1950s, El Salvador initiated a National Malaria Program that improved malaria surveillance, data entry, and treatment through community health workers or volunteers known as “Col Vol.” However, El Salvador experienced a resurgence in malaria with incidence peaking at 96,000 cases in 1980 following the emergence of DDT-resistant mosquitoes, expansion in the country’s cotton industry, and increased migrant laborers on cotton estates near mosquito breeding sites. Despite the peak in malaria cases in 1980, improvements in malaria interventions based on the spatial distribution of cases as well as the quicker detection and treatment of cases through the decentralization of diagnostic laboratories led to a decline in cases during the 1980s. The sustained malaria prevention and control efforts since then, in addition to improvements in the health care system from the 2009 Health Reform, has allowed El Salvador to successfully achieve malaria elimination.

Malaria Incidence in El Salvador (2000-2020)

Year Incidence of malaria (per 1,000 population at risk)
2000 0.629994
2001 0.300869
2002 0.096669
2003 0.069856
2004 0.091591
2005 0.054534
2006 0.039705
2007 0.032272
2008 0.026511
2009 0.016800
2010 0.013542
2011 0.005552
2012 0.010266
2013 0.004717
2014 0.004695
2015 0.003894
2016 0.009300
2017 0
2018 0
2019 0
2020 0
WHO Region of the Americas: El Salvador


Burton, R. A., Chévez, J. E. R., Sauerbrey, M., Guinovart, C., Hartley, A., Kirkwood, G., … & Campbell, C. C. K. (2018). Factors associated with the rapid and durable decline in malaria incidence in El Salvador, 1980–2017. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 99(1), 33.

World Health Organization. (2019). El Salvador certified as malaria-free by WHO. Wkly Epidemol Rec.