Diabetes is a silent killer that is stalking Vietnam, with an estimated 80 percent of patients with the disease unaware that they have it.

This was one of the startling facts highlighted as a Changing Diabetes Village opened in Hanoi 's Thong Nhat Park on Nov. 6.

About 32,000 people were killed by complications related to diabetes in 2010, according to the National Endocrinology Hospital in Hanoi.

Those visiting the village can learn about healthy living and cooking, get assessed for diabetes risk factors, get blood glucose checks done and receive medical advice free of charge.

The village, which will remain open until November 14, is expected to attract at least 1,000 people and benefit millions who will know more about diabetes and the importance of a healthy lifestyle through mass media campaigns launched as part of the awareness-raising event.

A Diabetes Walk targeting 1,000 people will also be organised in Hanoi on November 14, the World Diabetes Day, to create awareness and encourage action to fight the disease in Vietnam.

The "Changing Diabetes Village" will be set up in HCM City's Nguyen Du Stadium in District 1 from November 11-14.

In 2001, Vietnam was home to 1.7 million people with diabetes, or 3.2 percent of the adult population between the ages of 20 and 79, according to the IDF Diabetes Atlas.

It is estimated that the number of people with diabetes will increased to 3.1 million, or 3.5 percent of the adult population, by 2030.

However, local studies indicate that the prevalence of diabetes in Vietnam is actually much higher. Recent data (2009) from HCM City shows a prevalence rate of close to 11 percent.

The "Changing Diabetes Village", part of the Vietnam Diabetes Care Programme, is set up by the Ministry of Health, the National Endocrinology Hospital and Vietnam Red Cross with support from Novo Nordisk, a Denmark-based global healthcare company.-VNA