New Jersey Unveils Nicholson Foundation-Funded Plan to Achieve Equity in Maternal and Infant Health

On Monday, January 25, 2021, New Jersey unveiled the Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Plan, a groundbreaking strategy to eliminate racial inequity in maternal and infant health and cut in half the number of women who die each year in the state before or shortly after giving birth. The Nicholson Foundation and Community Health Acceleration Partnership funded the plan, which was developed under a public/private partnership that New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy launched in January 2019 to make state the safest and most equitable place in the nation to deliver and raise a baby.

Produced under the direction of national public health expert Dr. Vijaya Hogan, a perinatal epidemiologist currently serving as Adjunct Professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill, the plan provides a roadmap and framework to fundamentally change how New Jersey approaches systemic racism and inequity to provide an equitable system for Black and Brown women and infants.

Currently, Black mothers in the state are seven times more likely than white mothers to die from pregnancy-related complications. In addition, Black babies in New Jersey are three times more likely than white babies to die before their first birthdays. The plan is designed to affect sweeping changes and includes over 70 specific, actionable recommendations for maternal health stakeholders across all sectors.


"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."
-Dr. Vjiaya Hogan

To reach the goal of reducing maternal mortality by 50 percent over five years and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes, the plan seeks to: (1) ensure all women are healthy and have access to care before pregnancy; (2) build a safe, high-quality equitable system of care for all women prenatally through postpartum care; and (3) ensure supportive community environments during every other part of a woman’s life so that the conditions and opportunities for health are always available.

The plan is the culmination of over a year of in-person and virtual meetings with more than 75 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.