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For Release:
March 08, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Tom Slater
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Releases New Jersey's First Strategic Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released the state’s first strategic plan that details a coordinated and robust statewide effort to eliminate health disparities in racial and ethnic populations.

“All New Jersey residents have a right to equal access to high quality health care, but unfortunately vast differences persist in health outcomes among our diverse communities,” Governor Jon S. Corzine said. “We need to do better, and that is why this strategic plan for eliminating disparities is so important.”

The strategic plan was released today (March 8, 2007) at a press conference held by New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D., and other state leaders.

“The existing problem of disparities in health care and access is a complex and persistent problem that not only affects New Jersey but the entire nation,” said Commissioner Jacobs. “This plan outlines our prime areas of emphasis, how DHSS will build on existing successful programs, and our timetable for action and evaluation measures. For the first time in our state’s history, we have a comprehensive and targeted document that will guide and evaluate programs that address the major issues that contribute to racial and ethnic health disparities in New Jersey.”

The plan inventories existing DHSS programs designed to address disparities, identifies gaps in access and programs, and develops benchmarks that build on the department’s successful programs as well as new programs. The plan, which has a three-year implementation period, also includes evaluation tools to measure success.

Internally, the plan focuses on the following specific areas of development including:

o        Improving the standards for collecting and reporting race/ethnicity data;

o        Increasing the availability of culturally and linguistically sensitive materials and services;

o        Increasing minorities in management positions;

o        Enhancing community outreach; and

o        Increasing programs that exemplify promising practices.

The plan also maintains its focus in certain priority medical areas that disproportionately impact minority communities:

o        Asthma, cervical and prostate cancer [screening], cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, HIV disease, accidental injuries  and infant mortality

o        Succeeding versions of this Plan will focus on other priority health areas including: breast and colorectal cancer screening, kidney disease, Hepatitis C, sexually transmitted infections, immunization and violence.

New Jersey’s diverse communities, socioeconomic status, environmental issues and access to health care present a great challenge,” said Commissioner Jacobs. “This plan will provide the Department with a clear road map to help us eliminate health disparities in our state.”

The Department was authorized by New Jersey Legislature to establish the “Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative,” which led to the creation of this plan.

The strategic plan was developed by a working committee that included DHSS staff, including members of the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, the Office of the Commissioner, the Division of Family Health Services and the Center for Health Statistics.

The Rutgers Center for State Health Policy and the UMDNJ Center for Multicultural Health Communication also contributed to the plan’s development.

It is a fluid document that will continue to reexamine and evaluate strategies beyond the three-year implementation period. It is posted on the DHSS website at

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