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A demonstration project has been underway in two provinces in the north of Viet Nam since 2004 as part of the diabetes component of the national plan of the Government of Viet Nam targetting non-communicable diseases. The project is designed to develop health care networks at provincial level which can address diabetes prevention and management in a comprehensive and sustainable manner. The model which results can then be implemented on a national basis. The project is a collaborative venture between the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization and is also receiving specific project funding from the World Diabetes Foundation. Implementation is coordinated by the National Hospital of Endocrinology in Ha Noi.Baseline data collected for the project confirm overall diabetes prevalence rates in the provinces to be in excess of 3% of whom 80–90% remain undiagnosed. An interesting, but unexplained, finding is a three-fold difference in the prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance between the two provinces.To date the project has identified, by screening, more than 2500 people with previously undiagnosed diabetes, and the number of people with diabetes now receiving care in the two provinces has more than tripled. Diabetes clubs have been formed in both provinces and are being linked with the new national diabetes association. A very large number of community-based activities aimed at primary prevention have also been held, using local media outlets such as provincial radio stations. Some barriers within the system which reflect traditional methods and resource allocation have been identified and intensive and determined efforts are allowing these to be overcome both at provincial and national level. The successful solution of these problems will allow a smoother transition when other parts of the country implement the model.In 2007, the project will be extended to a third province in the south of Viet Nam. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons.