Seven-year-old Carlos Kamara needs urgent surgery on a collapsed lung after he swallowed a toy whistle. Instead, all he can do is lie in pain in a half-empty hospital ward waiting to be seen.

A doctors' strike in Sierra Leone has paralyzed an already threadbare health system in one of the world's poorest countries, leaving its biggest and busiest hospitals in disarray, the sick unattended.

It represents a new low in Sierra Leone, whose ranks of medical staff were hit by the Ebola outbreak of 2013-16 that killed 250 medical workers out of nearly 4,000 in total.