Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Leading national satellite television channels in Bangladesh have agreed to allocate one minute free air coverage during prime time to promote children’s issues, including hand-washing with soap, and campaigning against child labour.

ATN Bangla, Desh TV and Somoy Television on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UNICEF in the presence of Abul Kalam Azad, Minister of Information and Culture to formalize this unique partnership.

UNICEF will produce Public Service Announcements (PSA) under the guidance of the relevant ministry to promote priority issues related to children’s wellbeing, which will be broadcast by the Satellite Television Channels. Asaduzzaman Nur MP, Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman and Ahmed Jubaer have signed the MoU from their respective organizations with Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative.

The information minister congratulated the participating television channels for their extra ordinary efforts and called on other television channels to come forward to promote the wellbeing of children.

Chief Executive Officers of the respective television channels also spoke during the event held at hotel Sonargaon in the capital Dhaka.

Bangladesh has made considerable progress on several Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), notably MDGs 4 and 5, reducing the under-five child and maternal mortality rates to 53.8 per thousand live births.

However, neonatal mortality is still a challenge, 57 per cent of under-five mortality contributed by neonatal mortality.

There are approximately 42.3 million children aged between 5-17 years old in Bangladesh and 7.9 million are estimated as ‘working’ children. The nutritional status of children is a huge challenge for the country. Also, it is important to enforce laws against child labour and child marriage as three in 10 girls are married before age of 15 and one in three teenage girls bear children.

BBN/SSR/AD-03Nov11-3:30 pm (BST)