SINGAPORE - Healthcare staff from the National University Hospital (NUH) are now able to tap on an extra $120,000 a year to train their peers in South-east Asia and China.

It follows a US$1 million (S$1.34 million) donation by the Fung Foundation - the philanthropic arm of global supplies management firm Li and Fung Limited - which has been matched by the Singapore government.

The US$2 million will be put in the National University of Singapore's endowment fund and the returns - about $120,000 annually - will be invested in sending NUH staff or National University of Singapore (NUS) medical faculty abroad to teach medical skills.

It can also be used to bring young doctors and medical staff from developing countries to gain experience at the NUH.

The Fung Clinical Fellowship programme was announced by global supplies management tycoon Victor Fung on Friday at the Fung Healthcare Leadership Summit in Singapore. Its president Professor Tsui Lap Chee said: "This is our way of returning to the community."

Associate Professor Sunil Sethi, who heads NUH's department of laboratory medicine, said: "Previously, we had to plan these overseas trips on an ad-hoc basis, beg, steal or borrow to raise funds. Now we don't need worry about funding.

"We can also plan for a series of programmes, so there is continuity in training overseas peers, not just a one-off thing."

Last month, an NUH team went to Kunming, China, to train peers in rehabilitation care. "A patient who has suffered a stroke can be left on the bed, developing bed sores and it becomes depressing," Prof Sethi said. "Or they can be well rehabilitated, on their feet up and about. Good training in rehab care makes all the difference."

The fund is open to the NUH's medical professionals including doctors, nurses and allied health workers. Because the endowment will take time to generate returns, the Fung foundation has also donated an extra US100,000($134,000) for immediate use.