The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States has had a “very productive public health relationship” with the World Health Organization on the heels of harsh words from President Donald Trump.
Dr. Robert Redfield appeared on “Good Morning America” Wednesday, and was asked by host George Stephanopoulos about the president’s controversial decision to halt funding to the WHO during a global pandemic.
“Did the WHO fail here? Is it wise to suspend funding in the middle of this crisis?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“The CDC and WHO has had a long history of working together in multiple outbreaks throughout the world, as we continue to do with this one,” Redfield said.
“We’ve had a very productive public health relationship. We continue to have that,” he said.
When pressed on whether or not WHO “failed,” Redfield took a pause and said: “I’d like to do the post-mortem on this outbreak once we get through it together.”
On Tuesday, Trump announced at a White House news conference that the United States would halt funding to the WHO temporarily because the U.N. health agency “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.” He went on to say that the group promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus, “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.”
Trump claimed those actions by the WHO led to the current worldwide outbreak and that “thousands and thousands would have died” if he hadn’t restricted travel from China on Jan. 31. He provided no evidence to prove the veracity of that claim.
In 2019, the United States contributed more than $400 million to the WHO ― the organization’s biggest overall donor, according to Reuters.
Many leaders and powerful organizations have spoken out against Trump’s defunding of WHO, including Bill Gates and The United States Chamber of Commerce, an American lobbying group that usually supports Republican political candidates.
On Tuesday night, Gates tweeted that the move was “as dangerous as it sounds.”
“Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs WHO now more than ever,” he wrote.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce told an Associated Press reporter on Wednesday that Trump’s decision is “not in U.S. interests given the organization’s critical role assisting other countries — particularly in the developing world — in their response.”
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has been ravaging the world since the end of last year. With more than 2 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 128,000 deaths, the virus has disrupted life on a global scale as governments both local and federal attempt to slow the spread.