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Sport Relief 2014: Cheryl Cole to speak out to help raise malaria awareness

The singer will draw on her own experiences to raise awareness of the disease

With a seat bookmarked for her return to the X Factor later this year, things are looking up for Cheryl Cole - but life wasn't so rosy four years ago when the pop star was struck down by malaria after returning from a break in Tanzania.

Now the fully recovered Ms Cole is helping Sport Relief to bring attention to the devastating disease, which claims thousands of lives across Africa every year.

In a short film to be shown during the Sport Relief Night of TV on BBC One on Friday 21 March, Ms Cole will draw attention to the crippling epidemic via footage shot in a hospital in eastern Uganda, to raise money to help save lives.

Ms Cole said in a statement: “When I climbed Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief five years ago it was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The motivation lay in knowing it could help in eradicating malaria and ultimately saving lives by providing mosquito nets.

"I didn’t for one minute think 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. It was the scariest thing you could ever imagine for me and for my friends and 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."

Malaria is a preventable disease, but thousands of adults and children die from it globally due to a lack of medical supplies and basic resources like mosquito nets.

Ms Cole added: "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. But there are still hundreds of thousands who still need our help. Sport Relief money goes to helping provide mosquito nets to help the people that need it most.

"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. Please watch the TV show tonight and donate what you can.”

Ms Cole collapsed at a photoshoot after returning from a holiday in Tanzania with friend and dancer Derek Hough in 2010.