Morristown, NJ

First Lady Creates National Model to Tackle Maternal and Infant Health Crisis

Morristown Minute

First Lady Murphy begins her term as chair of the National Governors Association’s Governors’ Spouses Program by tackling maternal and infant health crises.

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First LadyTammy Murphy will begin her term as the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Governors’ Spouses’ Program Chair, while Governor Murphy replaces Governor Asa Hutchinson as Chairman of the NGA.

At a ceremony for the leadership change, First Lady Tammy Murphy presented her NGA initiative, “Creating a National Model to Tackle the Maternal and Infant Health Crisis,” during a panel discussion with Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, Lead of Merck for Mothers.

This initiative will consist of four roundtables over the next year seeking to

  • center women’s voices;
  • improve and utilize maternal and infant health data;
  • expand access and quality of care;
  • and elevate innovative maternal and infant health policies, programs, and technology.
“As the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States should be a global model for maternal health care, but the shocking and unacceptable reality is that we are ranked 55th in the world for maternal deaths. Every mother and baby across our nation should begin their life together in health, wellness, and joy. I am eager to work with my fellow Governors’ spouses and partners to make each of our states, and our country as a whole, the safest and most equitable place in the world to deliver and raise a baby,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy.
NJ Pregnancy-related Deaths by Race, EthnicityNurture NJ

As of 2019, New Jersey's infant mortality rate is 4.3 deaths for every 1,000 live births - in the United States, the infant mortality rate was closer to 6 deaths per 1,000 live births.

However, the numbers become drastically uneven as we disperse these statistics by race/ethnicity.

In 2019, the infant mortality rate for white children was 2.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. Comparably, in the same year, the infant mortality rate for Black children was 8.5 deaths for every 1,000 live births - more than double the mortality rate for white children.

In 2019, First Lady Tammy Murphy launched Nurture NJ, a statewide program committed to reducing maternal and infant mortality in New Jersey and creating equitable care among women and children of all races and ethnicities.

In January of 2021, the First Lady unveiled the Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan, with the goal of reducing New Jersey’s maternal mortality by 50 percent over five years and eliminating racial disparities in birth outcomes.

Since its inception, Nurture NJ has seen 43 pieces of maternal and infant health legislation signed into law by the Governor, developed and implemented programs and policies to improve healthcare for expecting parents, hosted annual Black Maternal and Infant Health Leadership Summits, and much more – all with the goal of position New Jersey as a leader in fighting the maternal and infant health crisis.

“I am in awe of the bold leadership that First Lady Tammy Murphy has shown in her mission to combat maternal and infant mortality through the Nurture NJ initiative, and I am excited to see that more and more state leaders are focusing on this issue,” said Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, Lead of Merck for Mothers. “Ending preventable maternal mortality is possible if we collaborate more across sectors and Merck for Mothers is proud to be part of our nation’s journey to eliminate maternal health inequities.”

Project Goal:

To create equity in birth outcomes for all mothers and infants in New Jersey through a strategic plan that will inform state policy, funding, and collaboration.

Three Primary Objectives:

  1. Ensure all women are healthy and have access to care before pregnancy.
  2. Build a safe, high-quality, equitable system of care and services for all women during prenatal, labor, and delivery.
  3. Ensure supportive community environments and contexts during every other period of women's lives so that the conditions and opportunities for health are always available.

Project Description:

This project is part of the Nurture NJ campaign led by the Office of the First Lady (OFL) of New Jersey to coordinate 18 state agencies in creating an equity-focused strategic plan for reducing maternal and infant mortality and eliminating racial disparities in maternal and infant birth outcomes. The contractor, Vijaya Hogan, is collaborating with several experts to develop a comprehensive, actionable, and evidence-based strategic plan for improving maternal and infant health.


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