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Children watch a soccer match in Kroo Bay, Freetown, Sierra Leone. As a result of high population growth and a decade of civil war that ended in 2002, poverty remains widespread throughout the country.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A boy sits on a boat in the harbor of Kroo Bay in Freetown, Sierra Leone. As a result of high population growth and a decade of civil war that ended in 2002, poverty and child mortality rates are widespread throughout the country.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A woman breastfeeds her newborn baby in Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone has the highest rates of maternal and child mortality in the world with one in eight women dying during pregnancy and one in five children dying before they reach the age of five.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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Nurses inside Princess Christian Maternity Hospital hold a newborn baby in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is making great strides to improve the health of women and children and announced free health care to pregnant women and children under 5 from April 27.

Photo by: ami vitale

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A newborn baby stretches inside her crib inside Princess Christian Maternity Hospital the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. The risk of this child dying before she reaches the age of one is severe. In 2006, there were 270 deaths per 1,000 births in this country.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A mother holds one of her newborn twins inside Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sadly, one of the twins died days later.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A boy sits on the streets in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. After a brutal ten year long civil war, the country is on a path of reconstruction but there is still a long way to go. In 2009, the country has the highest rate of maternal and child mortality in the world.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A woman holds her newborn baby in the Kroo Bay maternal clinic inside the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. For most women living in this impoverished part of town, this scarce clinic will be the only access they have to health care.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A midwife holds a newborn baby in the Kroo Bay health clinic in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. The biggest Government hospital in the country is just about 200 meters away from the settlement but many inside this slum can no afford it so the clinic is their only way to access any kind of care.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A baby is weighed inside the Kroo Bay health clinic in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Health care workers in Kroo Bay report a high incidence of child malnutrition, which is caused by the extreme poverty.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A baby stretches his feet inside the Princess Christian Hospital in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A women who just gave birth sits under a blood stained mosquito net inside the Princess Christian Maternal Hospital in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. The nets prevent mosquitoes from spreading malaria. Every year tens of thousands of young children contract malaria and many of them do not survive, contributing to the highest child mortality rate in the world.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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Nurses show a woman her newborn baby just after delivery in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A young girl sits inside a church on Easter Sunday in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is a predominantly Muslim nation and comprise 60% of Sierra Leone\'s population. Followers of Christianity are about 30% of the population, and those following only African indigenous religion about 10%, though many inhabitants combine traditional beliefs with one of the newer faiths.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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Bintu Koroma, a nurse who delivers babies during most evenings relaxes after a long night the Kroo Bay health clinic in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. She can not even recall how many children she has delivered but believes it numbers into the thousands.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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Dr Frances Wurie stands in a moment of concentration just before she has to operate on a particularly complicated pregnancy in the Princess Christian Hospital in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. The woman was waiting for drugs for more than 8 hours which further complicated the difficult operation.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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Women look at a newborn baby in the Kroo Bay area in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is the third-lowest-ranked country on the Human Development Index and seventh-lowest on the Human Poverty Index.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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A young girl sits helping her mother sell mangos in Kroo Bay in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. From the moment children can walk, they are already helping their mothers with work.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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Children pose after coming out of a thanksgiving ceremony before Easter in Kroo Bay in the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. A large proportion of youth, who include many former combatants, are unemployed or underemployed. The peace is fragile but the country has successfully tackled reconstruction and has embarked on a process of stabilization.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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Fatimata Konte, who is nine months pregnant, does laundry inside her modest cardboard and tin home in the slum of Kroo Bay inside the capital of Freetown in Sierra Leone. She lost five of her children and worries that she could lose her next baby too because of the poverty she faces.

Photo by: Ami Vitale

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Sierra Leone Infographic
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Where Every Pregnancy
is a Gamble

After a decade-long conflict, Sierra Leone has many challenges ahead including improving child and maternal health. in 2009, one in eight women died during pregnancy. Fatimata Konte, an expecting mother, fears giving birth after already losing five of her children. She hopes the new policy to bring free health care to all pregnant women will save her next child and make giving birth safe for all women.