CBC documentary: BC doctor conducts primary care clinic in Tibet
Blog Author: Michael Oved Dayan, PhD
I recently spent a month in Tibet filming a BC physician, Dr Isaac Sobol, and his volunteer medical team as they treated nearly 1500 indigent patients, assembling and conducting a primary care clinic in a remote Tibetan town. The footage from my trip is now being released in my second film: “High Plains Doctor: Healing on the Tibetan Plateau.”
In the clinic I witnessed heart-wrenching dilemmas over how to administer resources--with life and death consequences. I recognized the universality of these dilemmas. The issues debated over spending on medicine within this little clinic in a faraway land resonate with our own health care debates in North America. Thus, I began to view the clinicʼs problems as a microcosm of larger philosophical questions about allocation of funds, decisions over who gets treated, and the impact of environmental health and public policy on human health.
The team labored for long hours, encountering late-stage conditions they wouldn’t ordinarily see in Canada, and ethical complexities that are at the core of our North American health care debates. “High Plains Doctor” brings viewers a rare window into the uncensored pain and disharmony in an isolated part of Tibet.
Bridging health care in Nunavut and Tibet, the film reveals disquieting parallels facing these Aboriginal peoples. The film captures unforgettable images of life in a village that two years ago (on 14 April 2010) was devastated by a 7.1 level earthquake.
“High Plains Doctor: Healing on the Tibetan Plateau” is a feature-length documentary. The film is set to air on CBC documentary on 7 May, and will pre-screen in a fundraiser at the Park Cinema on Cambie Street on 15 April.
Watch the documentary trailer on YouTube.
Tickets to the pre-screening fundraiser on 15 April can be purchased on the Festival Cinemas site.
About the featured physician
Dr Isaac Harry Sobol, the central figure at the heart of “High Plains Doctor,” has spent most of his life healing. Dr Sobol is an advocate and expert in Aboriginal health strategy--at the time of the film he served as chief medical officer for the Northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. His broad medical experience includes working as director of the Division of Aboriginal Peopleʼs Health at the University of British Columbia Medical School, and medical health officer for the Nisgaʼa Valley Health Board in northern British Columbia. He currently works with Health Canada’s First Nations Inuit Health Branch in Vancouver.
--Michael Oved Dayan, PhD