In general, community health councils plan and coordinate community-level responses to pressing health issues. Members of health councils typically include representatives of various community sectors: health care providers, schools, public health officials, health advocates, health care consumers, and community members interested in housing, transportation, economic development, and community wellness.
New Mexico’s current health council system is made up of 33 county-based councils and 5 councils in Native American communities (Acoma, Cochiti, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, and To’Hajiilee). The health councils were originally established under provisions of the 1992 Maternal and Child Health Plan Act. The New Mexico Department of Health provides training, coordination, technical assistance, and other kinds of support to the health councils.
Community Health Councils form the hub of local public health systems. Health councils assess local health needs, identify gaps in services, develop community health plans and priorities, and coordinate community health initiatives. The health councils serve as vital partners with the statewide public health system, providing local information and feedback to the New Mexico Department of Health regarding community health issues.
Addressing urgent health needs. Health councils work to address locally-identified priority issues, such as youth suicide, teen pregnancy prevention, diabetes and obesity prevention, substance abuse and mental health issues, and access to primary health care.
Achieving outcomes. New Mexico’s community health councils have been able to achieve a number of positive changes in their communities that in turn result in improved community health: