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Dizzy and sweating, 15-year-old Isatu Koroma sits with her eyes closed in the maternity ward in Sierra Leone where she has spent the last 10 days, as her tiny little daughter begins to cry.Ward sister Josephine Samba describes the girl's pregnancy as "an accident," whispering that Koroma's own mother died two months after she was born as she cajoles her into breastfeeding the as yet unnamed baby.After Sierra Leone announced its first Ebola cases in May 2014, schools were closed and movement severely restricted, leaving girls more vulnerable to abuse.Since then the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) has counted more than 18,000 teenage pregnancies, with the number of pregnant girls up by 65 percent in certain districts.Internationally recognized as the country with the world's highest maternal mortality rate, at 1,360 deaths per 100,000 live births, Sierra Leone could ill afford the blow to its health system that Ebola dealt, diverting resources and staff away from maternal health.Many girls wait until it's far too late before seeking hospital care, says Alimamy Philip Koroma (no relation to the teenage mother), one of Sierra Leone's pre-eminent obstetric and gynecology specialists.
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