Seizing the Moment: How a Public Health Institute Would Advance Health Equity in New Jersey

Masked family walk hand-in-hand.

News Flash (Sept. 20, 2022): Acenda Awarded $1 Million Grant to Launch New Jersey’s First Public Health Institute

Acenda Integrated Health will serve as the incubator organization for the development of N.J.’s first public health institute to support efforts to make New Jersey a healthier, more equitable state.

 

Why a public health institute in New Jersey?

For New Jersey to be the safest, healthiest, and most equitable state, it will take more than individual actions. To achieve optimal safety and health equity, everyone—health care professionals, government officials, business and nonprofit leaders, and everyday people—must work together. The state’s public health infrastructure and system have been strained for several decades due to lack of funding, insufficient coordination across health and related sectors, and the impact of social and economic determinants of health on New Jersey’s residents. The ongoing COVID pandemic offers an opportunity to strengthen the state’s public health capacities through the establishment of a nonprofit public health institute. This report recommends comprehensive strategies to create such an institute with a mission to close health equity gaps and ensure New Jersey has adequate resources for its residents to live their healthiest lives.

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New Jersey would join 30+ states nationwide

in establishing a public health institute to advance health equity.

Background

  • Inadequate funding for New Jersey’s public health infrastructure leads to inadequate staffing at state and local levels. Though local public health systems are generally responsive to their communities, New Jersey’s system lacks the capacity to achieve its core missions and accomplish such responsive tasks as managing COVID response activities.

  • This report caps a 10-month planning process that engaged a wide range of key stakeholders from public health, healthcare, social services, and the faith community to strategize solutions.

  • Two striking situations underscore the need for a public health institute in New Jersey: the state’s racial and ethnic health inequities and underinvestment in its public health infrastructure. Both were exacerbated by the impact of the COVID pandemic and must be considered in the development of a public health institute.

Goals: Public Health Institute in New Jersey

The report identifies four potential goals of a public health institute in New Jersey: 

  • Collaborate within communities to advance health equity through authentic relationships and support capacity building, using a social justice framework
  • Function as an assertive, responsive, nimble fiscal and administrative entity to support public health initiatives and health equity 
  • Serve as a community-driven, trusted, and independent convener that leads the administrative, operational, and strategic efforts in the development of a public health institute
  • Support and use an accessible, easy-to-use, modern data infrastructure

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N.J.’s public health institute would be the 1st nationwide

with advancing health equity as a founding priority.

 

Conclusion

Establishing a nonprofit public health institute would be a key part of a reimagined public health system for New Jersey, as recommended in this report released in collaboration with the National Network of Public Health Institutes, The Nicholson Foundation, and the New Jersey Department of Health. A public health institute would help prevent illness and work toward eliminating health inequities that contribute to glaring health disparities in New Jersey.

In conjunction with the report, RWJF issued a request for proposals from New Jersey nonprofits with an interest and capacity to serve as an “incubator” for launching a public health institute.

RWJF Video

Seizing the Moment: Creating N.J.’s First Public Health Institute

RWJF and the newly announced incubator organization of the public health institute (PHI) are looking to make the longtime goal of a state PHI a reality.

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Webinar: Seizing the Moment

Webinar: Seizing the Moment

Seizing the Moment

Webinar: Seizing the Moment

An RWJF webinar discusses key findings from the “Seize the Moment” report and how a public health institute in New Jersey can achieve healthy equity and create a more robust public health infrastructure.
An RWJF webinar discusses key findings from the “Seize the Moment” report and how a public health institute in New Jersey can achieve healthy equity and create a more robust public health infrastructure.

Webinar: Seizing the Moment

An RWJF webinar discusses key findings from the “Seize the Moment” report and how a public health institute in New Jersey can achieve healthy equity and create a more robust public health infrastructure.

From the Blog

How Can We Prioritize Equity in Public Health?

A key strategy to achieve health equity for all New Jerseyans is a public health institute dedicated to improving public health infrastructure and promoting collaboration.

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