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Community Health Network Areas (CHNAs) are volunteer coalitions of public, nonprofit and private sectors working together to build healthier communities through community-based prevention planning and health promotion.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) established CHNAs (pronounced chah-NAH) in 1992. Today, CHNAs involve each of the state’s 351 towns and cities through 27 networks.

CHNAs play an important role in addressing DPH’s statewide public health priorities:


  • Eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities and their social determinants
  • Promoting wellness in the home, workplace, school, and community
  • Preventing and managing chronic disease

CHNAs collaboratively identify local and regional health priorities, design community-based prevention plans, and track success in achieving healthier communities. CHNAs develop new health improvement projects as initial projects are completed.

All CHNAs embrace these core principles:

Principle #1: Community Health Networks are committed to continuous improvement of health status.
Principle #2: Community Health Networks are focused on tracking area health indicators and eliminating identified disparities.
Principle #3: Community Health Networks are consumer oriented.
Principle #4: Community Health Networks are inclusive of key stakeholders in health improvement: consumers, local government, businesses, and providers of community-based education, and human services.
Principle #5: Community Health Networks are reflective of the racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, and linguistic diversity of the area.
Principle #6: Community Health Networks are working partnerships between DPH, consumers, and local service providers.