Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

April 15, 2021



When Tibetan physician and meditation master Akong Tulku Rinpoche created a charity in 1980, he called it Rokpa International, for the Tibetan word for “to help” or “to serve.” In 1991, a Canadian branch of the group was established to provide support to Rokpa International’s work in Tibet. Past projects have included the funding and facilitating of teaching Tibetan students English and training in medicine to prepare them for medical school in China. The group’s current project is an annual, three-week-long clinic in the town of Yushu, where a Rokpa Canada medical team, led by Dr. Isaac Sobol, whose day job is chief medical officer of health of Nunavut, treats poor patients for free, distributes medicine donated by Western pharmaceutical companies, and helps patients who need more extensive medical attention obtain treatment in regional hospitals. Members of the Rokpa Canada medical team are largely Canadian and American but also occasionally include doctors from Great Britain and elsewhere.

Where they work

Yushu, China (formerly Tibet)

Who is needed

Most in demand are family physicians, but rheumatologists and emergency physicians are also encouraged to join the medical team.


One month total, three weeks of which are spent providing care to patients at the clinic.

Financial Considerations

Doctors must cover their own travel expenses for travel to and from China. Lodging is free, provided on the grounds of the orphanage that hosts the clinic. Rokpa Canada coordinator Dr Isaac Sobol estimates the total cost to volunteers at $3,500. The entire amount is tax-deductible as a charitable donation. Rokpa Canada does not provide insurance to volunteers, who are required to sign a waiver of liability.


Dr. Isaac Sobol, chief medical officer of health of Nunavut, (867) 975-5774,; or