In this article, I explore how Buddhist charity workers in Vietnam interpret rising cancer rates through understandings of karma. Rather than framing cancer as a primarily physical or medical phenomenon, volunteers state that cancer is a product of collective moral failure. Corruption in public food production is both caused by and perpetuates bad karma, which negatively impacts global existence. Conversely, charity work creates merit, which can improve collective karma and benefit all living beings. I argue that through such interpretations of karma, Buddhist volunteers understand their charity at cancer hospitals as an affective and ethical form of public health intervention.

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