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About the Project

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.

Insights from Public Health Officers


Kevin Sumner

Health Officer/Director, Middle-Brook Regional Health Department

Public health has changed significantly.

Public health has always been underresourced

COVID underscores the need tor sustainable and flexible funding

People don't know what public health is

Organizational structure, the public health workforce, and politics

Margy Jahn

Health Officer, Freehold Area Health Department

What works in public health are the people

We're looking at health equity, health in all policies, and social determinants of health

Lynette Medeiros

Assistant Health Officer, City of Hoboken

Public health is part of your everyday life

I know my community

Megan Sheppard

Health Officer, Cumberland County Health Department

Time and funding constrain us

Insights from Other States


Jamie Bodden

Managing Director, Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials

Public health has evolved

It's time for our system to transform and modernize

Engaging partners and champions

How we made progress in our plan for transformation

Georgia Heise

District Director, Three Rivers District Health Department, Kentucky

Policy should drive public health

Hiring an executive director and lobbyist

Create a shared vision, hire professionals

Ruth Maiorana

Executive Director, Maryland Association of County Health Officers

Now is the time to modernize public health

We cannot afford to be invisible

Quantifying essential services

We cannot afford to be invisible

We are always looking for champions