Charlie Webster: I will turn my battle with deadly diseases into a positive

The presenter told why her experience showed her how important it is to prioritise global healthcare.

Sports presenter Charlie Webster has said she is determined to turn her battle with four deadly diseases into a “positive” by raising awareness of global healthcare.

The 34-year-old TV personality made headlines last year when she contracted life-threatening conditions, including malaria, while taking part in a charity bike ride for the Rio Olympics.

Months after being told she would not survive, she has joined the campaign for active aid to help eradicate malaria, which kills thousands every year.

Speaking at a United Nations Foundation conference on Thursday, she said the fatal but “preventable” illness should be a top priority among world leaders.

Charlie stayed in intensive care in Brazil for a month.
Charlie stayed in intensive care in Brazil for a month (Charlie Webster/PA)

“I nearly died from things that were completely preventable and malaria still exists even though we can end it in our generation,” she said.

“If we all do our bit then collectively we can make changes.

“We need to keep it at the top of our lists as a global goal, and as a community raise awareness by investing more, talking about it and lobbying our own Government to make sure they don’t forget about developing countries, as we rely on them as much as they rely on us.”

Saying she was “honoured” to share her views at the London event, she added: “I am determined to make what happened to me have some kind of positive impact.”

Charlie highlighted how bad health can hold back the development of issues such as gender equality as it prevents children in poorer areas from receiving a proper education.

Now an ambassador for Malaria No More UK, she said her research and campaigning had helped her “come to terms” with the cocktail of illnesses that left her with life-changing health problems.

“My main concern is that I have a long-term kidney injury, though we are still not sure how bad it is going to be,” she said.

“I had complete organ failure and it takes time for the body to regenerate and heal.

Charlie at the UNF Families + Social Good event.
Charlie at the UNF Families + Social Good event (UNF/PA)

“I am also suffering terrible vertigo at the moment and I have damage to my left hand.”

But, she continued: “I credit a lot of my recovery to my own mind because I set myself little goals every day to try and empower myself.

“I am determined to still be me and live the life that I had before – even though I have to carry around like a million bottles of water with me all the time.”

Commenting on recent concerns about whether she would be able to have children in the future, she said: “It was a real worry to start with but there has not been anything definitive, so I will remain positive on that.”

Looking to the future, Charlie said she is currently working on television projects in the UK and US and plans to release a book next year.

Describing it as a “blueprint for survival”, she said she will use her experiences to share advice on “how to overcome suffering and get through adversities”.


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