US offering expedited Visas for health care Filipinos: But we need them here too

In a post made on the U.S. Department of State: Consular Affairs Facebook page, medical professionals (with immigrant/non-immigrant visas/petitions) hoping to work in the US were told they could contact their nearest embassy for an appointment, especially those working to combat COVID-19. Many were tagging their loved ones in the post, but there were plenty of comments littered around accusing the US of trying to take the health workers of other nations in a dire time.

Some of these comments asked: Why are they trying to draw away health workers from countries during this time when they’re needed most? It’s no secret that many people dream of working in the US to better their lives and earn more, but it’s always been notoriously difficult to achieve. Now that people are being given a way in, it seems a little suspect.

Currently, the US has the most number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, surpassing China and Italy only in a matter of weeks. At over 100,000 confirmed cases, they are now scrambling for protective measurements, space for the sick, and capable hands to care for them. It’s been a whirlwind for the entire world, experiencing over 24,000 deaths in just a few months.

It can be said that the US isn’t forcing people to apply, but the glaring factor here is in the disparity of earning and how people who want to provide for themselves and their families will likely gravitate towards what pays more. Just recently, the Department of Health invited health workers to commit and sign an NDA for a month-long stint working with COVID-assigned hospitals and people saw how little they thought of doctors in terms of compensation. What’s PHP 500 per day to a much bigger wage in the US–isn’t that more enticing?

It made a lot of people question why exactly the US was suddenly so eager about opening visa applications in such a turbulent time. While they aren’t forcing anyone’s hands to take their efforts to the US instead, most people who are desperate to provide better lives for their families will easily choose what will be more promising. One comment even reads “better than 500 php ng DOH.”

A few comments had people saying “now’s your chance!” and tagging their loved ones with them clamoring for a better life. But it makes you question what exactly is in store for those who do go abroad for this endeavor–will they be put on the front lines for the lives of foreigners? Will they be plucked from their place here, where we are also in dire need, and still be endangered anyway, far from home? And what happens if they contract the virus? Will they be cared for, too? Will they just be sent home? A lot of these questions were raised by concerned netizens, with no answers even on the website.

In our nation where we have yet to expand our testing efforts to truly know the real number of cases we’re fighting against, health workers are overextending themselves and their services just to be able to save the lives of people who could very well infect them, too. And some are still being treated poorly, compensated very little, and still not being given the proper protective equipment they need. If given a chance to work somewhere that will compensate them more and provide them opportunities, wouldn’t it make sense to take it?

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