Cheryl Cole on her battle with malaria: 'At one point I was given 24 hours to live'
21 MARCH 2014
Four years have passed since Cheryl Cole was left fighting for her life after contracting malaria. At one point the singer was given just 24 hours to live.
Now fully-recovered, she is helping Sport Relief bring attention to the devastating disease, which continues to claim thousands of lives across Africa every year.
"When I climbed Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief five years ago, it was honestly one of the hardest things I've ever done," Cheryl says in a video set to be broadcast on the live Sport Relief show in 21 March.
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Cheryl's life was in danger after she contracted malaria in 2010 following a holiday to Tanzania.
"The motivation lay in knowing it could help in eradicating malaria and ultimately saving lives by providing mosquito nets.
"I didn't think for one minute that only a year later I would get malaria myself and become so ill that at one point I was given 24 hours to live," the 30-year-old added.
"It was the scariest thing you could ever imagine for me and my family. The pain I felt and went through, it's what so many people go through, all because they don't have a mosquito net which could save their life.
"I was lucky; I had the best care I could get. Some people are not so lucky. A £5 mosquito net could keep a child safe and really does help."
Just a year earlier the Geordie beauty had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Kimberly Walsh to raise funds and awareness about the disease's effects in Africa.
Malaria is a preventable disease - but thousands of adults and children continue to die every year because of a lack of medical supplies and basic resources like mosquito nets.
"In 2009 when I climbed Kilimanjaro a million kids a year were dying of malaria, now five years later it's 150,000 less per year. That's 150,000 kids saved, so we are beating malaria," explained Cheryl, who collapsed at a photoshoot after returning from a holiday in Tanzania with Derek Hough in 2010.
"I've decided to speak out about this again now because having experienced it, it's obviously very close to my heart and I want people to know how easy it is to help."
Cheryl's emotional plea is one of a number of celebrity appearances for the Sport Relief special.
The Girls Aloud beauties were joined by celebrities including Gary Barlow, Denise Van Outen and Alesha Dixon.
Presenters David Walliams, Gary Lineker, Davina McCall, Claudia Winkleman, Jack Whitehall and Fearne Cotton will host a star-studded show full of celebrity performances, comedy sketches and highlights from this year's Sport Relief challenges.