New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy has announced a new maternal and infant health partnership to erase maternal racial disparities in the state.

She says a black woman is five times more likely than a white woman to die from maternity-related complications. And just as troubling, black babies are three times more likely to die before their first birthday.

"This is unacceptable," Murphy said Thursday. "It's the greatest racial disparity across our country and we have to fix it."

Part of the problem, she said, is the centuries-worth of "embedded, institutional racism that has led to disparities in maternal and infant health."

The state's Nurture NJ effort will team up with the Nicholson Foundation and the Community Health Acceleration Partnership to develop a plan to reduce maternal mortality by 50%.

Nurture NJ has been working for two years to assist expectant mothers of all ethnicities, with care and information, including housing, transportation, nutritious food, health care, childcare, workforce development, education and more.

Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5