NJ first lady starts effort to lower maternal mortality rate

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CAMDEN -

New Jersey's first lady is launching an initiative to combat the state's poor maternal mortality rate.

Speaking Wednesday at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, Tammy Murphy said she and Gov. Phil Murphy's Cabinet are launching a public awareness campaign to help drive down the number of women who die during or soon after pregnancy.

She says the campaign will also focus on reducing the higher rate of black women dying compared with white mothers.

“Unfortunately it is an issue of systemic racism,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “The first lady was very clear about that this morning. We've had institutions everywhere from how people are trained medically to the social determinants that have brought communities of color into a worse standing for infant mortality.”

New Jersey has among the worst rates of maternal mortality, ranking 45th in the nation. The maternal mortality rate for black women in New Jersey is the highest in the nation.

The effort comes as lawmakers in the New Jersey Legislature advance 14 bills aimed at reducing the maternal mortality rates.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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