Public Health New Mexico

KUNM's Public Health New Mexico reporting project provides in-depth, investigative and continuous coverage of public health in New Mexico, with an emphasis on poverty. For all articles and web exclusive content, go to 

Intropin via Creative Commons

The New Mexico Department of Health is reporting a nine percent drop in drug overdoses in 2015.

UNM via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The Department of Justice has scrutinized just two universities in the country about campus assault and harassment: The University of Montana and the University of New Mexico. Results of the DOJ probe in Montana were revealed in May 2013. The findings letter for UNM came out at the end of April this year. via / Creative Commons License

There’s expectation in the air when students go off to college—an expectation of independence and learning—and even safety. But for many people on campuses around the country who experience sexual assault or harassment, the illusion of safety can fall away. Now, the federal government has begun looking at why.

Ed Williams

The new Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge is a place of firsts: it’s the first urban wildlife refuge in the Southwest and the first wildlife refuge in the country to have an environmental justice plan. It's also the first time kids in one largely Hispanic community have had a wild outdoor space to play in close by.

MoDOT Photos via Flickr / Creative Commons License

When you think of a drug sting operation, you might think of busting drug dealers. Last week the chief of the Albuquerque Police Department defended a reverse drug sting operation in which undercover officers posed as dealers in early May and arrested mainly homeless people and people with mental health issues who tried to buy drugs.

amayaeguizabal via Pixabay / creative commons license

Bernalillo County and the city of Albuquerque are holding a training session Saturday, June 4, on how to interact with people who have mental health conditions. The certification program is a first for the city.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

  KUNM Call In Show 6/9 8a: The results of a federal investigation about how UNM handles sexual assault are out, and the report is sharp and critical. We’ll talk to folks from the university as well as advocates for survivors about their reactions and what’s next for the university.

Torsten Mangner / Creative Commons via Flickr

New Mexico’s teen pregnancy rate has been cut in half over the last two decades, but it remains one of the highest in the country.

Camerafiend / creative commons license via Wikimedia

The Santa Fe City Council adopted an $82 million budget on Wednesday, May 25. Councilors devoted part of the city’s funds to addressing poverty and climate change in the capital.

Wikimedia Commons

The New Mexico Environment Department is rewriting the state’s rules on water pollution. 

The state’s water quality rules regulate everything from groundwater pollution from abandoned wells to sewer discharge into rivers. But some of those rules are outdated.

The Environment Department kicked off a review process last week to study them, and see which ones need to be updated.

Ed Williams

Air pollution is a serious problem for some neighborhoods in Albuquerque—especially in low-income areas that border an industrial zone south of downtown.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Hungry people in New Mexico may have been denied expedited food assistance after their applications were falsified and put on hold. That’s according to testimony from state workers in recent weeks during an ongoing hearing about whether the Human Services Department is fit to process applications.

In the wake of 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike’s death in Shiprock on the Navajo Nation, questions have surfaced about law enforcement resources, a late Amber Alert and legal jurisdiction for the crime that’s being tried in federal court. Hand-in-hand with those concerns is also the high rate of assault on Native women.

Deleana OtherBull, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, says talking about these issues is tough, but it has to happen to support health and wellness in tribal communities. via Pexels / creative commons license

A large fire broke out at a metal recycling plant in Albuquerque early Saturday morning. Bernalillo County issued a warning to neighbors during the fire, saying to stay inside and not breathe the potentially toxic smoke.


Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a new set of rules aimed at reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, as part of an effort by the Obama Administration to cut methane emissions 45 percent by 2025.

pixabay / creative commons license

UPDATED 5/12 6a: The Santa Fe City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to raise the number of approved short-term rental units in the city from 350 to 1000. The New Mexican reports 19 people made public comments on the plan, some concerned, others supportive.

Horia Varlan via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Santa Fe is an expensive place to live. But it’s also an expensive place to build. Affordable housing and the bottom line of developers often clash. 

Ed Williams

Living in Santa Fe has gotten more and more expensive over the years. Today, home prices in New Mexico’s capital city are higher than almost anywhere else in the state. So, what happens when people don’t earn enough to make it there?


When state officials unveiled a $2.7 million ad campaign aimed at improving the quality of life for New Mexico kids this week, Catholic leaders responded with criticism, releasing a statement saying it takes more than advertising to fight a problem as big and as severe as child abuse.

Pexels via CC0

Court proceedings were paused in a hearing about the slow processing of food stamps applications last week when it seemed like a former state employee could incriminate herself.  A supervisor was set to answer questions about falsified applications when the judge asked if she wanted an attorney of her own.

Ed Williams

A chemical company has been testing the air inside homes for toxins near Downtown Albuquerque years after spilling dry-cleaning chemicals into the groundwater. So far, results show residents are not being exposed to chemicals.

Ed Williams

KUNM Call In Show 5/5 8 a: New Mexico has one of the oldest and most vibrant farming traditions in the country. Centuries-old acequia watering systems and ancient farming techniques are still used to grow crops that feed people from Taos to Las Cruces. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Child abuse and neglect is highly preventable—according to a report the CDC just released. It also says stopping child maltreatment altogether should be a public health priority. There are plenty of people who’ve been working in New Mexico on this issue for decades who agree, like the folks at the Nurse-Family Partnership in Albuquerque.

Psychonaught / Public Domain license via Wikipedia

Bernalillo County Commissioners are declaring an emergency over the county’s high level of opioid overdoses. 

PerryPlanet / Wikimedia Commons, public domain license`

On Friday the U.S. Department of Justice released the findings of its investigation into how the University of New Mexico handles sexual assault and harassment.

pixabay via CC

The company that handles medical services for prisoners in the state—Corizon Health—is facing hundreds of lawsuits filed by inmates who say care is inadequate. A series in the Santa Fe New Mexican investigates whether state officials have been ignoring warning signs or have done an inadequate job overseeing Corizon. 


Five health clinics housed in public schools are set to lose their state funding this summer. Now the state health department is trying to decide where they’ll send students who use the school-based health centers.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Dollar stores are everywhere these days—they’re being built at a record pace, according to industry reports. In some rural communities in this state, you might not see any store except a dollar store. A campaign is calling on these discount chains to make sure products are nontoxic.

AllenS via Wikimedia / creative commons license

UNM Hospital and UnitedHealthcare are in negotiations over continuing coverage for the company’s Medicaid patients. The hospital and insurer haven’t come to an agreement yet and are extending their negotiations for 60 more days.

Gina McCaleb via Flickr

School-based health centers are clinics housed in public schools that offer primary care, counseling, family planning and other services and the New Mexico Department of Health is closing several of them in the Albuquerque area.