Saying that celebrities and wealthy socialites don’t need to deal with the everyday nitty-gritty of planning a trip is an understatement. The life of luxury symbolizes, for most, the idea that everything in life can be easy, away from everything unsightly and undesirable. This view of money-fueled invincibility is, of course, a misconception, but it often takes a young starlet, a crippling affliction, and worldwide press coverage to shatter our twisted perspective on celebrity life.
This is exactly what happened when multi-talented English personality Cheryl Cole was diagnosed with acute malaria, directly following her visit to Tanzania when she collapsed on the set of a photo shoot in London. Even more disconcerting is the conclusion that she did not contract the illness as a result of negligence – Cole asserts that she took a full course of anti-malaria tablets during her stay.
The mosquito-borne illness, despite being fully preventable, is one of the leading causes of death around the world, especially in poorer countries like sub-Saharan Africa, where Cole was travelling last month. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that over 3.3 billion people, about half the world’s total population, is directly at risk of contracting the disease. Each year, this leads to 250 million new cases, 1 million of which will inevitably be fatal. Medications are available to treat or prevent the disease from taking hold, but scientific progress is slow and it is estimated that a fully effective vaccine may not be available for another ten years.
Ms. Cole’s condition is one that health officials hope will spur awareness of the potentially fatal disease. Following her collapse, she was rushed to the hospital when her friends noticed her rapidly deteriorating condition. Cole is to stay in intensive care while the disease is treated, and will stay bed-ridden for several weeks in hopes of a full and speedy recovery.