Atlantic City, New Jersey – In the opening session of the National Governors Association (NGA) Annual Meeting, New Jersey First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy released the “Tackling the Maternal and Infant Health Crisis: A Governor’s Playbook” – a complementary policy roadmap to “Strengthening Youth Mental Health: A Governor’s Playbook,” which NGA Chair New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy unveiled as part of his yearlong NGA Chair’s Initiative. The complementary initiatives brought together close to 500 people in four convenings across the country to advance best practices and implementable, impactful solutions for states.
“As the wealthiest country in the world, every mother and baby across our nation should begin their life together in health, wellness, and joy. But tragically that is not the case,” said First Lady Murphy. “In fact, the United States has the worst rates of maternal mortality among developed countries, and the gap between rates in the U.S. and other high-income countries is only widening.
“The Maternal and Infant Health Initiative Playbook is designed to make transformational change in a system that has historically failed our mothers and babies – especially our Black, Hispanic, and American Indian and Alaskan Native mothers and babies. Ultimately, working together with our voices, resources and commitment is the only way we will make the United States the safest nation to deliver and raise a baby.”
The Playbook is a toolkit for immediate and long-term action to improve maternal and infant health. Many of the 32 highlighted policy recommendations work to address the significant discriminatory policies and practices embedded in organizational structures that lead to disparities in maternal health outcomes, as poor maternal health is a key driver of poor infant health. Building on First Lady Murphy’s Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan, launched in 2021, the NGA maternal and infant health initiative focuses on four key pillars:
- Centering Women’s Voices in Maternal Health Policy
- Improving and Utilizing Maternal Health Data
- Expanding Access to Quality of Care
- Elevating Innovative Maternal Health Policies, Programs, and Technologies
In 2019, First Lady Tammy Murphy launched Nurture NJ, a statewide program committed to reducing the maternal and infant mortality epidemic in New Jersey and ensuring equitable care among women and children of all races and ethnicities. Since its inception, Nurture NJ has created a statewide strategic plan, seen over 43 pieces of maternal and infant health legislation signed by Governor Murphy, developed and implemented groundbreaking programs and policies, hosted 17 Family Festivals statewide, begun establishing a first-of-its-kind Maternal and Infant Health Innovation Center, utilized $158m in New Jersey Fiscal Year budget allocations, and more – positioning New Jersey as a national leader in fighting the maternal and infant health crisis.
The work of Nurture NJ has proven successful in New Jersey. When Governor Murphy entered office in 2018, New Jersey was ranked 45th in the nation for maternal mortality. This year, the state was ranked 29th in the nation, a significant step into the right direction for the mothers and babies of the state.
View “Strengthening Youth Mental Health: A Governor’s Playbook” and the “Tackling the Maternal and Infant Health Crisis: A Governor’s Playbook” on NGA’s website.