A Devex event in partnership with SmileTrain

Nutrition for mothers & children:

Accelerating progress amid a pandemic

September 23, 2021 — 1 p.m. ET | 7 p.m. CET


Hosted by:


In partnership with:


About the Event

The COVID-19 pandemic is jeopardizing progress on malnutrition across many low- and middle-income countries, with infants and young children often suffering the worst consequences. Responses such as physical distancing, school closures, trade restrictions, and country lockdowns have disrupted the production, transport, and sale of nutritious and affordable foods, pushing millions of families toward nutrient-poor alternatives.

At the same time, oversaturated health systems are struggling to support children and mothers as already scarce resources are redirected toward the COVID-19 response. In addition, interrupted humanitarian response efforts are further limiting access to essential and life-saving nutrition services in many countries. In order to protect children from and treat children with various forms of malnutrition including wasting, it’s imperative that the global health community ramps up support to children and mothers in need — while ensuring that those at the last mile aren’t left behind.

In order to be truly equitable and effective, nutrition interventions must also target and reach children with underlying health conditions such as HIV, diabetes, cleft lip and palate, as well as persons living with disabilities and chronic diseases.

On Thursday, Sept. 23, Devex will host an ecosystem event on the sidelines of the 76th annual United Nations General Assembly in partnership with Smile Train, exploring what’s needed to gain back the ground lost due to the effects of the pandemic and then accelerate progress on nutrition outcomes while leaving no one behind.

Discussions will also highlight the need to build sustainable and locally led nutrition services to help build resilient health systems able to withstand a future pandemic, including ways to scale up services for the early detection and treatment of child wasting, as well as improving maternal and child nutrition throughout pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood.

This event will include live captioning.

UHC Pavilion


1:00 p.m. ET

Welcome & introduction by Teresa Welsh, Senior Reporter, Devex

1:05 p.m. ET

Video screening: Building Back Health

1:10 p.m. ET

Fireside chat: How COVID-19 has impacted malnutrition in children


• Patralekha Chatterjee, award-winning Delhi-based journalist-columnist, author and consultant to international agencies
• Mamta Carroll, Senior Vice President and Regional Director – South Asia, Smile Train

• Teresa Welsh, Senior Reporter, Devex

1:20 p.m. ET

Panel discussion: Reaching all children and mothers with nutrition services


• Grainne Moloney, Senior Nutrition Advisor, Early Childhood Nutrition, UNICEF
• Dr. Meera Shekar, Global Lead, Nutrition and Population, the World Bank
• Dr. Felicity Vidya Mehendale, Smile Train Global Medical Advisory Board Member, Chair Smile Train Research and Innovation Advisory Council, Cleft and Academic Surgeon, Lead Global Cleft Research Programme, University of Edinburgh

• Teresa Welsh, Senior Reporter, Devex

1:55 p.m. ET

Closing Remarks by Teresa Welsh, Senior Reporter, Devex


Mamta Carroll

Mamta Carroll

Senior Vice President and Regional Director – South Asia, Smile Train

Mamta Carrol brings extensive experience in community social responsibility (CSR) and developmental communications. She has been a consultant to several CSR initiatives across industries/sectors including the Centre for Science and Environment, the United Nations, various conglomerates in the corporate sector and ad agencies. Her assignments have also included PR, event management, project management, environmental education, exhibition organization, outreach programs, healthcare awareness, and paralegal aid to underprivileged sections of society in the rural and semi-urban areas of India. Having been associated with Smile Train since 2006, Mamta is an integral part of the organization and holds the cause very close to her heart.

Dr. Meera Shekar

Dr. Meera Shekar

Global Lead, Nutrition and Population, the World Bank

Meera Shekar is global lead for nutrition at the World Bank’s Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice. In this capacity Shekar provides leadership, support, and policy advice on the bank’s nutrition portfolio across the spectrum of undernutrition and obesity, managing key partnerships such as the Power of Nutrition, and firmly positioning nutrition within the Global Financing Facility for RMNACH and the bank’s new initiative on human capital. Over the past several years, she has led the repositioning of the nutrition agenda that led to the global Scaling Up Nutrition movement, and was a founding member of the Catalytic Financing Facility for Nutrition developed in partnership with the Milken Institute, that evolved into The Power of Nutrition. Meera serves as the chair for the SUN executive committee and has been one of the principals for the emerging aid architecture for SUN, and the G-8 and G-20 agenda-setting process for food security and nutrition over the past decade. She developed the first-ever global Investment Framework for Nutrition and co-leads — with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — the Nutrition Financing working group for the Nutrition for Growth summit hosted by Japan in 2020.

Teresa Welsh

Teresa Welsh

Senior Reporter, Devex

Teresa Welsh is a Senior Reporter at Devex. She has reported from more than 10 countries and is currently based in Washington, D.C. Her coverage focuses on Latin America; U.S. foreign assistance policy; fragile states; food systems and nutrition; and refugees and migration. Prior to joining Devex, Teresa worked at McClatchy's Washington Bureau and covered foreign affairs for U.S. News and World Report. She was a reporter in Colombia, where she previously lived teaching English. Teresa earned bachelor of arts degrees in journalism and Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin.

Grainne Moloney

Grainne Moloney

Senior Nutrition Advisor, Early Childhood Nutrition, UNICEF

Grainne Moloney is a Senior Advisor at the UNICEF HQ in New York on Early Childhood Nutrition. There she leads on breastfeeding, complementary feeding, and micronutrient deficiencies. Previously Grainne worked in the UNICEF East and Southern Africa regional office on prevention and treatment of wasting, and nutrition in emergencies supporting 21 countries and as the Chief of the Nutrition with UNICEF Kenya. Before UNICEF, Grainne served as the Chief Technical Advisor for the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit, (FAO) Somalia which was responsible for the analysis that led to the declaration of famine in 2011. Grainne has worked mainly in Africa and prior to the UN, worked with ACF, Oxfam GB and the National Health Service in the UK. An Irish national, Grainne holds an MSc in Public Health Nutrition from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College Dublin.

Patralekha Chatterjee

Patralekha Chatterjee

Independent Journalist, Columnist and Author Focusing on Development Issues

Patralekha Chatterjee is an award-winning journalist-columnist, author, public speaker and consultant to international agencies focusing on development issues across multiple platforms. Currently, she is a Visiting Fellow at The Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP), a programme hosted jointly by Yale Law School (YLS) and Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) that tackles contemporary problems at the interface of global health, human rights, and social justice. Over the past three decades, she has brought to the national and international consciousness the crucial importance of transdisciplinary factors in the provision of public healthcare and social determinants that impact health and development outcomes, with a focus on marginalised groups. She has written extensively on India’s child nutrition crisis in mainstream media and international medical journals such as The Lancet. Chatterjee’s writings have appeared in The Lancet, British Medical Journal, reports for the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNDP, UN-Habitat, IRIN (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), portals of national think tanks and nonprofits and numerous mass media outlets. She contributes a fortnightly column on politics, public policy and development issues in India and other emerging economies to The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle, two multi-edition English language newspapers with a combined circulation of 1.4 million. She is also an experienced media trainer and has taught health and environment journalism to postgraduate students in Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi (2008-09) and been part of initiatives to train/mentor journalists in India, Europe, and The Pacific Islands. She also co-authored a training handbook on Reporting Disaster and Disaster Preparedness, supported by the German aid agency GIZ. Chatterjee has won several awards and fellowships, both nationally and internationally. She was educated in Kolkata, Pune, Delhi, Oxford and Paris, and speaks Bengali, English, French and Hindi.

Dr. Felicity Mehendale

Dr. Felicity Mehendale

Smile Train Global Medical Advisory Board Member, Chair Smile Train Research and Innovation Advisory Council, Cleft and Academic Surgeon, Lead Global Cleft Research Programme, University of Edinburgh

Felicity Vidya Mehendale MBBS, MS(Gen Surgery), FRCS(Plast), Fellow EBOPRAS. Felicity is a Cleft and Academic Surgeon. She trained as a doctor and worked as a general surgeon in India before moving to the UK. She led the East of Scotland Cleft Service, for over 13 years, looking after patients from antenatal diagnosis to adulthood and currently leads the Global Cleft Lip and Palate Research Programme at the University of Edinburgh. She is president of the International Confederation of Cleft Lip and Palate and Related Craniofacial Anomalies and the Craniofacial Society of Great Britain and Ireland. She is a member of the Smile Train Global Medical Advisory Board and Chair of Smile Train’s Research and Innovation Advisory Council. Her research includes projects to improve early diagnosis and interventions in babies with clefts to prevent morbidity and mortality from feeding and airway problems.