Ravell Call, Deseret News
American charity to the Philippines isn't faring as well as the response by the nation’s citizens to past international disasters, a recent Pew Research Center survey finds.
"The aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is drawing less attention from the American public than a number of other major international disasters in recent years," the study found.
Just 32 percent of Americans said they are following news closely out of the Philippines about Typhoon Haiyan. That compares unfavorably to 60 percent closely following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, 58 percent closely following the 2004 tsunami that hit the coast of the Indian Ocean, and 55 percent closely following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan in 2011
Of those surveyed, 14 percent of the 1,013 surveyed have donated money to the Philippines, another 17 percent said they planned to, but 67 percent said they were not planning to donate at all.
These numbers are significantly lower than Haiti: in the first several days following the earthquake, Pew reported that 18 percent donated. Yet, in the weeks following, 52 percent of Americans made monetary donations.
Pew speculated that news surrounding the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, may have diminished the number of Americans following the Nov. 8 devastation in the Philippines.
"The health care rollout was the public’s top story, with 37 percent following it very closely," Pew reported. This number is only slightly higher than the 32 percent who were following the Philippines coverage closely.
"Are Americans too preoccupied with another issue in the news, like the troubled rollout of Obamacare, to pay much attention?” queried the Christian Science Monitor. “Are they more focused on domestic disasters — Sandy last year, or this year’s tornadoes? Or are they just heaving a collective sigh at yet another manifestation of a trend toward more extreme weather that climatologists predict will pick up as global warming sets in?"
While Obamacare may help clarify the low percentages, it does not provide a definitive answer.
"The Haiyan story was eclipsed by the Obamacare rollout,” said the Monitor. “But that doesn’t seem to be a high enough degree of public interest to explain the comparatively low interest in Haiyan.”
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