November 24, 2022

The origins of the Toadstool Clinic

Toadstool Clinic is a network of international and local Afghan medical experts who have collaborated to provide medical care for Afghan refugees in limbo, and Afghans displaced within Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.
The Toad Stool Clinic

Toadstool Clinic was born out of a desperate need for Afghan women and girls to receive medical healthcare after the Taliban rose to power and put into effect a multi-prong approach, both by official decree as well as localized cultural-political responses, that effectively restricted women and girls from being able to access and receive care. Additional problems like sanctions that chilled foreign aid, which propped up much of the country’s service infrastructure, and the veritable hemorrhaging of talent as professional including doctors and nurses fled the country to safe haven elsewhere, further exacerbated the situation.

With very few options available and critical cases that required medical attention, JHR’s own Simina Quorishi leapt into action. Over the course of a weekend, she created the foundational structure for the Toadstool Clinic, underground in a major Afghan city and ready to meet these critical needs by all possible means. 

What started as an idea and an agreement grew by leaps and bounds. Simina and JHR soon built out all the infrastructure needed to support a clinic of this sort, and then expanded to create inroads toward what the clinic could not offer. For specialized care, such as amputations, surgeries to remove tumors, advanced infections, and more, Toadstool clinic has built strong relationships with hospitals in Turkey, UAE, Pakistan, and will continue to explore more options. These collaborations have allowed for miracles that have saved lives, such as the life of a 6yo girl with a brain tumor that was causing her to go blind and preventing her from obtaining nourishment by restricting her suck/swallow reflex. She and her family were able to travel, without visas or passports, into Pakistan, have the surgery, and were able to return home once the girl stabilized. She has gained weight beautifully and her health and vivaciousness are a testament to the ingenuity and determination that gave rise to the Toadstool Clinic to begin with.

Toadstool Clinic has been helping those affected by tragedies in Afghanistan, such as the Kaaj school bombing that targeted minority groups disfavored by the Taliban, and does so on a small and extremely efficiently used operating budget. Afghan women doctors and nurses lend their expertise and services, as they adhere to their oath of profession despite being locked out of the ability to practice as they once did, and doctors outside of Afghanistan consult, provide resources and support, and conduct the more specialized services and operations in their own countries. 

A perfect synergy of medical practitioners of different faiths, cultures, and nationalities allows Toadstools to provide care for vulnerable Afghan women and girls as well victims of sectarian violence, all in direct defiance of Taliban edict and the oppressive cultural and political forces that seek to lock people out of accessing their basic needs.