Completed Research

Universal Malaria Elimination Program

University of Toronto

Under the leadership of the Malaria-Control Program and the Anti-Malaria Campaign (AMC), various stakeholders coordinated their efforts to eliminate malaria. Widespread antimalarial strategies ensured the number of malaria cases in the country decreased by the 2000s to a level that allowed targeted interventions to proceed.

The Hard to Reach

People in Sri Lanka at risk of contracting malaria.

Key Takeaways

Political commitment, sustained and adequate finance, and centralized management of stakeholders and their activities brought the number of cases to zero, amidst conflict, natural disaster and migration. In 2016, the World Bank certified Sri Lanka as a malaria-free country.

  1. From the 1980s to the present, Sri Lanka has maintained centralized leadership of elimination efforts, enabling the country to make several strategically important decisions related to drug policies and, NGO and private sector roles. Sri Lanka’s approach to malaria elimination was highly centralized on matters of policy, but it administered programs through decentralized regional malaria officers.  Sri Lanka’s centralized control of drugs, programs, and funding may have enabled a more coordinated and deliberate response to the obstacles it faced, including the conflict and the tsunami.
  2. Perhaps influenced by Sri Lanka’s strong education system and universal healthcare system, both parties appeared to be motivated toward the goal of malaria control.
  3. Sri Lanka was able introduce novel technical approaches to combating malaria including, the new pyrethroid insecticides for indoor residual spraying, introduced long-lasting insecticidal nets, and the introduction of “Directly Observed Therapy, Short Course” where each dose of anti-malarials administered among affected individuals was observed.


This research was made possible through the Reach Alliance, a partnership between the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Research was also funded by the Canada Research Chairs program and the Ralph and Roz Halbert Professorship of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. This research project, including fieldwork, was vetted and received approval by the Ethics Review Board of the University of Toronto. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with and learn from those we met and interviewed in Sri Lanka.

This research was vetted and received approval from the Ethics Review Board at the University of Toronto.