A multi-million dollar centre to treat the territory's diabetes sufferers is due to open next week. It is believed to be the first joint venture in the SAR between a university hospital and a commercial company to tackle the chronic illness. The public-private centre at Prince of Wales Hospital is a partnership between the Chinese University's medical faculty and GenRx, a subsidiary of developer Hong Kong Resorts International. It is estimated that between two and three per cent of Hong Kong's population are diabetic, but doctors say two-thirds of them either have not been diagnosed or are badly managed. Professor Juliana Chan Chung-ngor, associate professor at the Chinese University's department of medicine and therapeutics, said that diabetes was increasingly affecting people under 40 years old due to a rise in obesity and more sedentary lifestyles. 'An unmanaged or badly managed diabetic is very expensive in the long-term. These people are walking time-bombs,' the professor said. 'In five to 10 years they will turn up in hospital suffering from kidney disease, heart disease, stroke or eye disease.' The government spends 10 to 15 per cent of its $31 billion yearly health budget managing diabetes-related complications, she said. Thirty per cent of kidney failure patients are diabetic. They are usually put on dialysis, which costs taxpayers between $100,000 and $300,000 a year per patient. Heart disease can cost up to $400,000 to treat, while a stroke patient can pay up to $200,000 for rehabilitation. A full check-up at the new centre will cost $2,000, and follow-up consultations a further $1,000 if diagnosed with diabetes, a condition where sufferers have too much glucose in their blood. Symptoms include thirst, excessive urination, tiredness, infections and weight loss. The centre's treatment programmes were developed by the hospital's Diabetes Mellitus and Endocrine Centre, where some 2,000 diabetics are treated each year, paying $44 for outpatient consultations and $68 for inpatient admission. Research at Prince of Wales Hospital shows that the treatment can substantially reduce the risk of dying, Professor Chan said. In a study of high-risk patients with an average age of 55 who have followed the treatment protocol since 1990, six out of 100 died after seven years, a rate similar to 'near-normal ageing'. 'They were seen by a doctor every three to four months, and by nurses who reinforced compliance. 'Every year we did a complete assessment of the eyes, feet, blood fat level, kidneys, blood pressure, and levels of obesity,' the professor said. Of a further 100 patients who were seen routinely at Prince of Wales Hospital but did not follow the protocol, 24 died, she said. 'Twenty-four per cent versus six per cent dying over a seven-year period - I think [those statistics are] tremendous. 'If you look at it another way, you need to treat only about six people to save one life,' the professor said.