Harare: A doctors’ strike in Zimbabwe has crippled a health system that was already in inte­n­sive care from neglect. It mir­r­ors the state of affairs in a coun­try full of promise a year ago with the departure of longtime leader Robert Mugabe but now faces economic collapse.

Doctors describe grim conditions: Bare-handed surgeries. Plastic bread bags used to collect patients’ urine. Broken-down machines. Zimbabwe’s health sector, once considered one of the best in Africa, is on its knees. “It’s so sad. The hospitals are empty, the patients are being turned away to die somewhere else,” said Prince Butau, treasurer of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, which represents about 1,000 doctors who anchor government hospitals.

A new president’s promises of change have turned out to be ho­llow. “Affordable quality hea­lth care guaranteed,” read cam­p­aign billboards for President Em­merson Mnangagwa, an ex-Mugabe protege, ahead of the July 2018 election. Six months after he won the vote, Zimbab­we’s health sector has crisis of basic medicines. —Agencies