CDC director says WHO remains ‘great partner for us’ after Trump announces funding halt


The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday that the World Health Organization (WHO) remained a “great partner” for the agency after President Trump vowed to cut off funding for the international body.

Speaking on “CBS This Morning,” Robert Redfield said the CDC would continue to work with the WHO to address the coronavirus pandemic and other global health crises.

“I’m just going to say the WHO has been a longstanding partner for CDC. We’ve worked together to fight health crises around the world,” he said, noting that the groups have worked side by side to address the Ebola outbreak in Congo. 

“We’re working, obviously, together on this coronavirus,” he added. “I think it’s important at this point that we leave the analysis of what could have been done better … to once we get through this outbreak.”

Redfield declined to answer questions on the international implications of a WHO funding cut amid the outbreak, saying that he’d leave geopolitical issues to other administration officials. He stressed that the CDC would continue to work with the WHO, a United Nations agency responsible for public health, to address the novel coronavirus.

Trump announced on Tuesday evening that his administration would suspend funding for the WHO pending a review of the agency’s “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

The president argued that WHO “failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion” and targeted the agency over its opposition to large-scale travel restrictions. 

The decision was met with fierce pushback both domestically and abroad. Many Democratic lawmakers asserted that the move ignored the Trump administration’s own mistakes in its response to the crisis. 

Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that the move “makes as much sense as cutting off ammunition to an ally as the enemy closes in.”

The U.S. is the largest contributor to the WHO’s budget in the world. Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget request proposed cutting funding from $122 million to about $58 million.

European Union and Chinese officials have reportedly pushed for the Trump administration to restore WHO funding. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said in a tweet that there was no justifiable reason to take such a step in the middle of a pandemic. 

The novel coronavirus, which first appeared in China in December, has infected more than 2 million people worldwide and caused roughly 128,800 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.

Tags Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Donald Trump Patrick Leahy Robert Redfield WHO funding
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