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In New Jersey, Black mothers are seven times more likely than white mothers to die from pregnancy-related complications. Black babies in the state are also three times more likely than white babies to die before their first birthdays.

The state’s First Lady Tammy Murphy and Dr. Vijaya Hogan recently unveiled a new plan aimed at addressing racial disparities in maternal and infant death. The Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Plan is a strategy to reduce the Garden State’s high rates of maternal and infant mortality and eliminate the racial disparities responsible for these deaths.

The strategic plan is the latest element of Murphy’s Nurture NJ initiative, which aims to make New Jersey the safest and most equitable place in the nation to deliver and raise a baby. Currently, The Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan includes over 70 specific, actionable recommendations for maternal health stakeholders across all sectors.

Funded by The Nicholson Foundation and the Community Health Acceleration Partnership, the plan will position New Jersey as a national leader in the fight for maternal health equity.

“Fully achieving the goals of Nurture NJ requires transformative change to a system that has historically and disproportionately failed Black women,” said Murphy. “The Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan provides the blueprint for necessary collaboration, partnership, and communication among government, private stakeholders, nonprofits and impacted communities and will ensure every New Jersey mother and baby gets off to a healthy start.”

The Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan is the culmination of over a year of in-person and virtual meetings with over 100 critical stakeholders, including national public health experts, New Jersey state departments and agencies, health systems, physicians, doulas, community organizations, and mothers and families. The team drew on extensive maternal health research and data to examine the structural barriers and systemic racism that contributes to the maternal and infant health crisis.

“The Nurture NJ strategic plan is designed to build a complete ecosystem that supports the health and well-being of mothers and infants,” said Dr. Hogan, independent consultant, adjunct professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health, Gillings School of Public Health, UNC-CH and lead author of the Nurture NJ plan. “The desire for transformative change was shared in every stakeholder discussion across New Jersey and the nation. This plan is about changing health outcomes through changing the way society treats women of color in all aspects of their lives.”