Over the past 70 years, New Jersey’s public health infrastructure and its capacity have been examined at least seven times through a combination of commissioned reports and internal agency studies. Now in the face of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected residents that experience the greatest health inequities, New Jersey finds itself, again, with public health infrastructure capacity that is stressed and severely constrained in its ability to address current and emerging threats such as infectious diseases, climate change, and an increasingly inequitable distribution of risk among the state’s populations as a result of structural racism, underinvestment of certain communities, and underrepresentation of marginalized populations in civic decision-making.
Recently, the NJ Public Health Agencies Collaborating Effort (NJPHACE), a network of six leading statewide public health associations, pointed to lack of adequate resources as the major challenge facing the state’s local public health infrastructure. In written comments to Governor-Elect Murphy’s Transition Team in 2017, NJPHACE recommended that the Governor “study the local public health infrastructure in New Jersey and the adequacy of the funding to support that structure.”
The objective of this project is to collect, analyze, assimilate, frame, and communicate key issues that will compel the advancement of meaningful and systematic change in the state’s public health infrastructure and capacity. Now is the right time to advance this important dialogue in New Jersey given the state’s ongoing health and fiscal impacts from COVID-19, the recent revision of the country’s Essential Public Health Services framework, and the fact that the state has launched its 10-year strategic planning effort, Healthy New Jersey 2030.