Mission & Role of the Office of Border Health (OBH)
The Office of Border Health (OBH) was established by state statute in 1992 and opened its doors in mid-1993.
In the early 1990s, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) had a much larger role in delivering health services, especially in maternal and child health for underserved residents in rural areas. OBH operated a mobile clinic to provide a variety of health care services to thousands of people lacking ready access to such services due to distance and/or the dearth of alternative medical service providers. Since that time, and in response to population growth and changing demographics, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) has collaborated with the Executive and Legislative branches of State Government, federal agencies and non-profit organizations, to improve health care in these areas. Since OBH was established in 1993, two additional local public health offices operated by NMDOH, but more importantly, 16 additional private non-profit community health centers and specialty health services providers have been established throughout New Mexico’s Border Region.
The mission of the OBH remains the same as since its inception: improvement of the heath status and health services in the New Mexico/Mexico Border Region and other border-impact areas of the State. While OBH originally served a large transient population that moved in and out of the Border Region, beginning in the late 1990s, these groups of migrants—both legal residents and the undocumented—began to take part- or full-time employment and permanently settle into ethnic and culturally unique enclave communities throughout the State, in both rural and urban settings. This transition has also led to new public health challenges. The great majority of the families in these communities live far below the poverty level, do not possess health insurance, and access health care primarily as indigents. Hence, OBH’s outreach, while still focused especially within the Border Region, must also extend statewide to provide guidance and support to public health initiatives that serve the migrant and recent immigrant subpopulations throughout New Mexico.
The role of the OBH is to serve as both catalyst and facilitator in ensuring that public health objectives are met in our shared culturally and socio-economically unique Border Region and that necessary preventive and primary health care services are provided to the State’s immigrant and migrant community (especially those from Mexico). In order to serve in its role, OBH has enhanced its linkages and partnerships internally within the Department of Health —especially with Public Health Region 5 that serves all border counties— as well as with other health and human services agencies and councils, and private health and medical services providers, with emphasis on improving the operational aspects in the delivery of pubic health services within the binational setting. Especially important is to more fully and effectively utilize the forums that have already been established (e.g., U.S. –Mexico Border health Commission, New Mexico Border Health Council, Binational Health Councils, Substance Abuse Collaborative, Promotora and Environmental Health Committees, immunization coalitions, and community health councils) to plan and implement collaborative activities that will have direct impact on attaining public health programming objectives contained in Healthy Border 2010 and NMDOH Strategic Plans.
Paul Dulin, Director
Office of Border Health
1170 N. Solano, Suite L
LAS CRUCES NM 88001
TEL: (575) 528-5154